White Rock city planner Chris McBeath speaks to members of the Economic Investment Committee about the city's draft Official Community Plan.

White Rock city planner Chris McBeath speaks to members of the Economic Investment Committee about the city's draft Official Community Plan.

White Rock’s design ‘lacking direction’

Committee votes to divide examination of suggested design guidelines for City of White Rock

The City of White Rock’s economic investment committee is taking a divide-and-conquer approach to a request for input on the city’s draft official community plan.

At a meeting last Wednesday – the committee’s first of 2017 – members divided into three groups to tackle areas city staff asked for specific feedback on: the waterfront, town centre and lower town centre.

Design – which members agreed is lacking direction in the city – is to be a key focus.

“White Rock suffers because it lacks atmosphere,” said Shawn Dahl. “It’s cute and eclectic, but it’s a mess.

“Fort Langley’s got a feel, Steveston’s got a feel… It just sounds like there’s no plan. Even Johnston (Road)… it’s a mess.

“If money’s coming in, the time is now to pick a direction.”

The 170-page draft OCP, which sets out a vision of the city up to the year 2045, was presented to council members for the first time last week, at the March 6 land use and planning committee meeting. It was the subject of an open house at Centennial Arena Thursday evening (see related story, page 5), and further public consultation is set for later this month, including March 28 and 30, and April 1 at White Rock Community Centre.

City planner Chris McBeath, who presented an overview of the draft plan at the EIC meeting, said there is “a fine line” in drafting design guidelines. It can’t be too specific, nor “too mishmash,” he told members.

In response to a question from committee chair Bob Bezubiak – who also expressed concern there is “no clear plan” for the waterfront – McBeath said the biggest change in design guidelines for that area is the multi-use designation, ‘Waterfront Village.’ Among other things, it limits building heights to no more than four storeys.

For the town centre, a maximum of 25 storeys and floor-area ratio of up to 5.4 is proposed. Up to eight storeys is suggested in the lower town centre.

Bezubiak described the waterfront as “everything to White Rock,” but said at the moment, it “has no flow.”

Feedback and any recommendations from the subcommittees are to be shared at a EIC meeting to be held on either March 28 or 29 (the date was not finalized); scheduled specifically to accommodate the discussion in time for any revisions to be incorporated into the OCP.