White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker delivered his first state-of-the-city address Wednesday morning in the Oceana PARC dining room, for members of the South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce and invited guests.
The upbeat speech – which Walker was set to deliver again Thursday night at a free public event at White Rock Community Centre – largely eschewed controversy in summarizing his first year in office after being elected mayor, along with four new councillors, in October of 2018.
But Walker did elicit chuckles from the crowd when – after lauding still-ongoing community efforts to fundraise repairs to the pier, positive developments in water quality through the new treatment plant, improved relations with the Semiahmoo First Nation and services provided by city staff, the fire department and RCMP detachment – he moved on to the current pilot project to allow dogs on the promenade during off-season months.
“I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything as controversial,” Walker – who served as B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union president from 2008 until his retirement in 2014 – said.
“And that’s OK,” he said.
“We always have to (make sure to) go easy on individuals and hard on the subject.”
And while he said that council would be closely examining the findings of the city committee charged with overseeing the project, which are to be delivered in early April, he did note that surveying done by the city prior to the pilot had shown 76 per cent of respondents had “supported dogs being on the promenade during the off-season.”
The mayor, who campaigned against the spate of uptown development inherited from the previous council, soft-pedalled comments on this – save for praising the newly-constructed building that provided the venue for the meeting – focusing instead on the community amenity contributions that will be forthcoming from the new buildings.
“We will have between $7.7 million and $14 million available to us,” he said, adding that public input on what the funds should be used for will be sought starting on Dec. 4.
He suggested that among possible priorities might be providing additional amenities on the pier during its eventual total reconstruction to meet storm and seismic standards; providing impetus for affordable housing; and, developing more city parks.