Tracy Holmes photo Highrises are not a sign of progress – and the number in White Rock has lessened the city’s retirement appeal, writes Pierre Home-Douglas.

LETTERS: Paving paradise is not progress


Just came back from another of my fairly frequent visits to White Rock and I was once again reminded of the apt words of Joni Mitchell, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” Except in the case of White Rock, it’s “They paved paradise and put up another high-rise building.”

Each of the half dozen people I spoke to on the street thought the towers were destroying the character of a once-idyllic B.C. seaside town. And I’d wager the majority of White Rock residents feel the same way. So why didn’t present and former town officials – mayors and councillors – not represent their wishes? Isn’t that what they were and are elected to do? I’d love to know the answer.

One person I did speak to said with a shrug, “Oh, that’s progress.” No, it’s not. Progress is unstoppable, that’s true, but there was nothing inevitable about all those 20-plus storey towers being built in White Rock.

There are loads of towns and cities in Canada and the U.S. where the city leaders had the good judgment, vision and civic responsibility to restrict such development. Santa Barbara, Calif. is a good example: No buildings higher than nine storeys are allowed. That’s the highest building in town: a 1920’s Art Deco gem.

Meanwhile, the developers and elected officials turn White Rock into Yaletown South. And a town I thought I would retire to (I am one of those rare breed – a native British Columbian) is definitely off my list.

Pierre Home-Douglas, Dorval, Que.

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