White Rock public hearings regarding building heights postponed

Bylaw amendments aim to reduce height allowance from 12 storeys to six storeys on Johnston Road

Two public hearings regarding building heights on White Rock’s Johnston Road, initially scheduled for Monday (Feb. 25) evening, have been postponed.

The public hearings were scheduled to give residents an opportunity to speak about bylaw amendments to building heights on the 1300-block of Johnston Road. The amendment would reduce the maximum height from 10-12 storeys to four-to-six storeys.

The meetings have been rescheduled to March 11.

White Rock resident Garry Wolgemuth notified Peace Arch News that the public hearing had been postponed after he told White Rock staff that the city had “contravened” a section of the Local Government Act.

Wolgemuth emailed council and city staff Sunday, writing that the notice of public hearings must be published in at least two consecutive issues of a newspaper.

“The required caveat for ‘publication in two consecutive issues’ was not met!” Wolgemuth wrote.

In his email, Wolgemuth noted that the City of White Rock’s agenda states that a notice of public hearing was published in the Feb. 15 and 20 editions of PAN.

However, Wolgemuth noted, there wasn’t a notice of public hearing published in the Feb. 20 edition of the PAN, although an error on the part of the newspaper led to the notice being published twice in the Feb. 22 edition.

City of White Rock director of corporate administration Tracey Arthur responded to Wolgemuth’s email, notifying him that the public hearing had been postponed.

“There was a miscommunication in regard to the need for the second ad (following the initial required ad of Feb 15th) to be placed Wednesday Feb. 20th” Arthur wrote. “The double ad placed on Feb. 22 was not in any way to make up for there being no ad placed on Wednesday the 20th.”

One of the planned public hearings relates to bylaw changes for 1310 Johnston Rd. The amendment is to replace the zoning of the property to allow for a six-storey commercial and residential building. Currently, 1310 Johnston is zoned to allow a 12-storey commercial and residential building.

RELATED: White Rock council challenged by Lady Alexandra conundrum

Under existing zoning, the Lady Alexandra mixed-use luxury residential and retail building planned for 1310 Johnston Rd. (current site of the Leela Thai Restaurant and other businesses) was approved for a development permit at a height of 12 storeys, but the project does not yet have a building permit, which has allowed council’s current reexamination of the project.

Last month, investors in the Lady Alexandra project argued that the yet-to-be-approved amendments would create a financial hardship for them and essentially “kill” the project.

Paul Randhawa, who told council he represents a small group of investors who acquired the property and project from the original owner two years ago, said if council reduces the height, he and his friends will suffer “very significant losses.”

“If council takes the development down to six storeys and a 3.5 FAR, the project, as currently conceived, is dead and the site will not be developed for an undetermined period of time,” Randhawa said last month.

Wolgemuth told PAN that one of his concerns is that the city and developer might end up in a courthouse regarding the 1310 Johnston Rd. property.

“The main concern is that they follow the procedures to the T, which in this case, they weren’t,” Wolgemuth told PAN. “I felt it was necessary to notify them that the procedure wasn’t correct in a major way under Section 466(3) of the Local Government Act, which would be evidence presented in the court.”

“I’m just hoping the city doesn’t end up in court and spending a ton of money on litigation.”

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