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LETTERS: Obligation under fire

Editor: Re: Legally obligated to grow, Aug. 28 letters.
Mayor Wayne Baldwin – shown at last year’s state-of-the-city address – says White Rock must


Re: Legally obligated to grow, Aug. 28 letters.

According to White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin, the city is legally obligated to grow, as our share of the projected growth in the Lower Mainland, by 7,000 new residents over the next 25 years.

That might not sound like much. But with its current population of 19,399, that means a growth of 36 per cent. White Rock is very limited in size – about 5.1 square kilometers.

The mayor indicates this means about 4,000 new dwelling units.

In other words, we would need about 30 additional highrise towers like the 134-unit, 15-storey one proposed for North Bluff Road and Nichol Road. Or, if we use the twin towers of 21 and 24 storeys proposed for the former Epcor water utility site, we would need 66 such towers to create the additional dwelling units to meet our legal obligation.

Another development proposal in the same area (Thrift and Oxford) is for a 12-storey, 17-unit tower. Using this model we would need 235 additional towers to create the legally required dwelling units.

There are a few more examples you can find on the city website by Googling ‘Active Development Applications White Rock’. Depending on the number of storeys and the size of each unit, we will need to approve between 30 and 235 additional highrise towers to meet our legal requirement to absorb 7,000 new residents by 2041.

Where do you want these towers?

In the mayor’s inaugural speech last December, he stated: “White Rock’s growth is very small and manageable – about 120 to 150 people or three-quarters per cent per year – and we want to keep it that way.”

That equates to 3,000 to 3,750 additional residents of White Rock over the next 25 years. Only 15 to 117 highrises. But that’s only half of the number we need to meet our ‘legal obligation’. So when do the other 4,000 residents arrive, and where will we put their highrises?

Roger Elmes, White Rock

• • •

In Friday’s PAN, Mayor Wayne Baldwin stated White Rock is legally obligated to grow because the city has signed on to Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy (RGS).

If the RGS must be so rigidly adhered to, why then is White Rock’s Official Community Plan (OCP) – also a legal document – so flagrantly violated time after time? They are not mutually exclusive.

In fact, I direct the mayor to Division 1, Part 849(2) of the RGS, which states: “…to the extent that a regional growth strategy deals with these matters, it should work towards but not be limited to the following: (a) avoiding urban sprawl and ensuring that development takes place where adequate facilities exist or can be provided in a timely, economic and efficient manner.”

Cressey’s Vidal Street development falls outside that definition, as does Texor’s planned incursion at Nichol and North Bluff.

Stop making excuses and start listening to residents – no more highrises outside the downtown core, as stated in the OCP.

Anthony Manning, White Rock

• • •

Is this the way our mayor is to communicate with the citizens, through a letter to the editor of the PAN on the subject of the OCP?

I feel this is an insult to the intelligence of the good people of White Rock, who have endured what boils down to bullying practices of the coalition through constant and unwavering amendment changes of the OCP to satisfy the needs of developers’ profit margins.

The letter seems to me to be a veiled threat to the citizens to put up and shut up with the idea that concrete brutalism is here to stay.

Baldwin mentions Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy but fails to mention the fact that most of the large developers flouting their megalithic ideology have contributed handsomely to his and the coalition’s campaign funds.

I feel our small sleepy hamlet by the sea is falling prey to a style of concrete brutalism which will destroy the lifestyle enjoyed by all residents of White Rock.

Fiona MacDermid, White Rock

• • •

I call BS on Mayor Wayne Baldwin.

I attended the Imagine White Rock Vision Fair on May 24 where input from citizens was received regarding what they would like to see in the next Official Community Plan.

Every municipality is required to have one, but, as we are constantly told by those at city hall, it’s not law, it’s just a ‘guideline’. Now, our mayor is telling us that our city is required by law to take on 7,000 more people.

I challenge him to back up his statement and tell us which law.

I posed this question to a planner with the city. He pointed me to the Local Government Act, as well as to Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy. The Local Government Act states: “A board may adopt a regional growth strategy for the purpose of guiding decisions on growth, change and development....”

How do ‘guidelines’ translate into White Rock being legally required to take in 7,000 more people?

As for the Regional Growth Strategy, once again, the numbers are noted to be ‘guidelines’ only.

So, let’s say we don’t meet these ‘guidelines’. What’s the punishment?

Turns out, the courts have decided. In Metro Vancouver vs. Langley, it was determined the RGS contains “guidelines expressing policy”, not enforceable laws; to quote a friend, “the RGS is as binding as bran buds.”

Mr. Mayor, do your homework! And listen to the 83 per cent of White Rock citizens who oppose changing the OCP to allow for these highrises you are forcing down our throats in support of a bogus ‘law’.

Erika Johanson, White Rock

• • •

Regarding the letter from Mayor Wayne Baldwin, I can only say that no matter how many times the mayor repeats this, it is false.

The majority of citizens have made it clear they do not wish to be overrun by more density. It is the mayor’s job, as their employee, to ensure those wishes prevail.

C. Fast, White Rock

• • •

I was one of the many White Rock citizens who fought long and hard years ago when council first tried to change our OCP to allow developers to build their towers.

And although we won the fight, we did not win the war, because the Bosa towers were still built with the consensus that more towers would be in the town centre.

Now, once again, this issue has reared its ugly head as council seems hellbent on trying to change our OCP. So my question now to council is, why are you trying to build outside the town centre? Are you purposely trying to change the face of White Rock forever?

The location of the towers slated to be built are also totally out of character for the neighbourhoods, especially on Oxford and Thrift. What are you people thinking? The lovely Royce, which complements the neighbourhood was just completed there. The buyers bought into the Royce knowing our OCP, and now they may be susceptible to months of noise and construction if the towers are built? I would be furious if I was a new owner.

The Royce has approximately 189 units, so I think it more than contributes to our share of the Regional Growth Strategy, which Baldwin indicates we are now obligated to do. It has also shown us it is possible to incorporate growth without the constant need for towers to invade our neighbourhoods.

As a citizen, I am totally appalled they would even consider changing our OCP for a few money-hungry developers. We do not want to live in a concrete jungle and be under the constant scrutiny of construction.

Cheryl Berti, White Rock

• • •

In response to several comments made by our Machiavellian leadership in White Rock, we are not legally bound to increase density.

That is a totally misleading statement and has no basis in fact.

There is no law that forces any municipality to increase density or build highrises in their city. This is complete and utter fabrication. It’s just plain nonsense. This is the typical misleading statement put out by our inglorious leadership.

The OCP is another matter, and instead of honouring, respecting and following the OCP they have consistently trounced, degraded and disregarded the OCP with the instrument of CD spot zoning, which is as Machiavellian as it gets.

Garry Wolgemuth, White Rock

• • •

As members of council, we are advised by the city lawyer to only write to the letters-to-the-editor page under extreme circumstances or to correct information.

The Regional Growth Strategy clearly states: “The projections are to assist in long range planning and are guidelines only.”

There are no measures nor policing techniques to enforce compliance with a document that is meant as a tool to help Metro Vancouver member municipalities plan cities. It should be used as intended to help support housing polices, transportation issues and environmental concerns.

As with all bylaws and policies, they are up for interpretation. Mayor Wayne Baldwin’s interpretation, in my opinion, supports his penchant for densification of our city and his inability to listen to our residents who are clearly saying “No No. No!”

Coun. Helen Fathers, White Rock