EDITORIAL: Promise sets unrealistic precedent

White Rock council may have bitten off more than it can chew with its recent pledge to “preserve what people had when they came here.”

The statement by Coun. Lynne Sinclair – talking about a request to remove a trio of Royal Avenue trees that has grown to block a number of residents’ ocean views – received unanimous support at the Jan. 24 council meeting.

And while it may sound like a commendable notion, it would be difficult to call this promise realistic, or wise.

It sets a precedent the city would be hard-pressed to adhere to; one that could prompt countless residents to demand the preservation of, or a return to, whatever they saw out their windows when they first moved here.

While some will speak of the majestic views they once had before their neighbours moved in, others are sure to note they used to see certain amenities that are no longer available – free parking along the waterfront, for example.

Where will the line be drawn?

Will property owners be denied the right to build because their new home – or condo, or highrise, for that matter – will change their neighbours’ views? To what extraordinary lengths of ingenuity will builders and developers have to go to retain what neighbours had when they first moved here?

The idea also has the potential to more thoroughly divide the city into those who have and those who have not. Those with the money to afford their whims, will have. Those who don’t, won’t, and must simply live with the whims of their neighbours.

Observers of last week’s meeting may recall that two council members, Sinclair and Coun. Al Campbell, acknowledged they have view homes themselves. It is difficult to believe they didn’t imagine themselves, at some point, facing a situation similar to that of the Royal Avenue residents.

The fact is, it is impossible to please all of the people all of the time. In an ideal world, everyone would be happy. In the real world, there is compromise, and it would seem the Royal Avenue dilemma is an ideal case for exploring that concept. Surely, with the right amount of goodwill, and a minimum of unrealistic promises, there is a solution all of the neighbours – and perhaps even a few trees – can live with.