It was standing room only as White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin went through a list of his council’s priorities at his annual state-of-the-city address Thursday evening.
Baldwin – hosted by the South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce – also noted council accomplishments at the mid-way point of its four-year-term.
About half of Baldwin’s speech was dedicated to projects the city has planned, and the second half was dedicated to recognizing “community builders.”
Of the city projects, the mayor spent the most time talking about the city’s purchase of water utility from Epcor last year for a yet-to-be disclosed price.
Baldwin said the province had given Epcor the right to realize financial returns on investment of 10.25 per cent.
“This meant the more they invested, the more they could charge White Rock residents,” Baldwin told the crowd gathered at White Rock Community Centre.
He said council responded by purchasing the utility.
“Then, once the debt is paid off in 20 years, the water rates can be reduced,” Baldwin said.
A followup benefit of the purchase, Baldwin added, is that the city now has control of its own water quality.
Baldwin’s speech on water utility was followed by an applause from the audience.
Upcoming construction projects the mayor mentioned included Johnston Road reconstruction, the East Beach waterfront plan, Memorial Park on West Beach and a parkade for Marine Drive.
He said the East Beach plan has “two main goals.”
The plan involves climate proofing the east end of the promenade and to “enhance the attractiveness and the attractions of the East Beach area.”
A conceptual plan for the reconstruction of Johnston Road from North Bluff Road to Roper Avenue will “shortly be going to the public for input and comment.”
Baldwin said work for the road rehabilitation is expected to be completed by 2018.
The overhaul of Memorial Park “could be built in 2017, perhaps by the summer – in time for the Canada 150 celebrations.”
Baldwin also talked about a plan for a tiered parking structure at the corner of Vidal Street and Victoria Avenue. When finished, there will be parking for “up to 300 cars.”
The project should be carried out by mid-2018, he noted.
Baldwin commented on council’s desire to ban train whistling during the night. He said that to ban whistling, the city needs to install flashing lights and bells at eight crosswalks, noting Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway is supposed to pay for a large share of the $4-million project.
“Hence, the slow negotiation process which is heading into its third year.”
He talked about the city – in partnership with Surrey – advocating to relocate the tracks from the waterfront. The first step would be a feasibility study to the tune of $700,000 “in conjunction with Surrey.”
Before talking about “community builders”, Baldwin said council has had no problem hearing “dissenting points of view.”
The mayor spent a few minutes talking about each community builder, including: Lorraine Ellenwood, Ellen Kennett, Vin Coyne, Terry Ross, Michael MacKay-Dunn, Barbara Cooper, Joe O’Malley, Tom Kirstein and Chip Barrett.