White Rock passes West Beach building regulations

Bylaw amendments guiding development on White Rock’s West Beach are set.

Bylaw amendments guiding development on White Rock’s West Beach are set.

Council voted 5-2 last week in favour of amendments proposed for the new CR-3 zone, finalizing limits to allowed heights and densities in an area estimated to affect 15 to 20 properties.

The zone is part of Bylaw 2000, omnibus legislation that was adopted in April. At that time, council directed staff to come back with revisions to regulations proposed for vacation rentals and buildings on West Beach – two areas that residents and business owners had expressed concern with.

But while suggested changes to the vacation-rental rules were met with approval from those affected, concern with the CR-3 zone remains.

“Why would you vote for something where there was nobody in favour of it?” resident Malik Dillon asked council Monday.

Under the new rules, the height of a principal building in the zone is limited to 11.3 metres (37.1 feet), measured from either the natural grade at the mid-point of the building on the lowest side of the property, or not more than .5 m (1.64 ft) above the average height at the top of the curb for the lowest street frontage, whichever is less.

Any other buildings proposed for the same property can be no more than 3.2 m (10.5 ft.) higher than the first or lowest building, where the natural grade for those other buildings is greater than 3.2 m than the first or lowest building.

Residents had asked the city to base the measurement on existing grade – a move staff warned could lead developers to level their sites at a higher grade to create a higher starting point.

Couns. Helen Fathers and Al Campbell voted against final reading of the amendments, with Campbell noting the CR-3 zone “came about as really a disgraceful situation” in which a developer found “another loophole.”

Zoning changes previous to the CR-3 came about after residents Bob and Jacqueline Yearsley successfully took the city to court after they were refused a development permit for a six-storey building on Victoria Avenue. Concerns were heightened recently by a proposal for the Ocean Beach Hotel site.

Coun. Louise Hutchinson suggested the CR-3 zone as described will never actually be used; that developers will seek and receive variances, and that proposals for second buildings are unlikely.

“We know we’ll never build anything in the CR-3 zone,” she said.

Hutchinson also criticized the delay as unnecessarily putting vacation-rental operators on hold.

In supporting the amendments, Coun. Larry Robinson cited the ongoing focus on the Ocean Beach application. That application has been withdrawn, and the site leased, yet concerns continue to reference the proposal – something Robinson said is “a huge disservice” to property owners.

“The best thing we can do is come up with some type of universal zoning for this extremely difficult area,” he said. “Short of having a zone every two blocks, this is the best possibility. This is the best job we can do.”

Mayor Wayne Baldwin noted that only one property in the zone has the possibility of accommodating two buildings. The new regulations provide guidelines on height limits and densities, and “that’s not a bad thing.”

 

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