LETTERS: Public urged to be heard


Re: Oxford towers go to hearing, Nov. 25.


Re: Oxford towers go to hearing, Nov. 25.

After more than two years of work and consultation, The Oxford is moving to public hearing on Dec. 7.

Our team is excited to hear the community’s response to this proposed project. We feel that we must clarify the facts prior to the public-hearing process.

The land in question is located along Oxford Street and totals 2.7 acres. When our team started the process in 2013, the most obvious plan was three buildings of varied storeys that would allow adequate setbacks but would take up the entire footprint of the property.

It was at this point that members of the community began discussions with our experts about a number of significant trees on the property, specifically the heron rookery on the eastern side. We called in respected arborists and landscape architects, and all agreed the 86 significant trees in that section needed to be saved.

Under our current plan, which is for two taller towers, all of the trees in question are saved and we have committed to turn over one acre – over one-third of the site – to the city as a community asset and park.

Throughout the process we’ve heard from residents that saving the trees was of utmost importance. That’s what we’ve done. We believe that reducing the building footprint – thus increasing height – is the best use of land, and accurately reflects the core values of White Rock.

We believe we have gone above and beyond, holding more consultation than required; hiring respected experts to advise us; having a leading architect design buildings; and putting forward a proposal we believe will be one of the best in the region.

We listened when the community told us they wanted fewer units  – our project has only 121 – and less traffic; about preserving urban forest; about community amenities. We listened to the wish for public art, and to increasing Oxford Street setbacks to minimize impact on condo owners to the north.

Now we are proud to have a development going to public hearing that reflects our entire community, not just a select few.

We encourage all of White Rock to come out to the public hearing and have your voice heard.

Jay Minhas, Elegant Development

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A petition with 2,000 signatures opposing height and density of the 24- and 21-storey Oxford towers was submitted to the City of White Rock a couple of months ago.

I encourage everyone who signed to attend Monday’s public hearing and speak to the reasons that inspired you to support this petition, or at the very least show your support. Even though the petition has been on file and a detailed cover letter emailed to each city councillor and mayor, the public hearing still bears a tremendous amount of weight.

I express gratitude to the petition volunteers who rallied to reach as many people as physically possible this summer. There are so many engaged residents who truly care about the future and quality of life in our quaint community.

Clearly the petition was a tool for those interested in communicating their stance of opposition. People appreciated the opportunity to have their voices heard.

The public-hearing process will be a final opportunity to speak about the towers, proposed in an area outside of the Town Centre, which is also against the current OCP. The developer is asking for a build which is almost five times the height of the nearby recently built Royce complex.

During the petition process, I encountered residents who are fearful, angry, pessimistic, apathetic and resentful of some of the decision-making bodies at city hall in terms of mayor, council and senior staff. Their trust has been broken, and several examples were cited again and again. Many refused to sign because they felt it would not make one iota of a difference.

Yet I consistently stayed positive and encouraged others to have faith that our elected officials would honour the community voice.

I steadfastly continued along the petition path with optimism, hope, faith and trust that our mayor and council would value the community feedback and act accordingly.

It takes just four council votes to approve this developer’s application. Four of our elected officials can outnumber thousands of voices – hardly seems fair, yet we elected our public officials to act on our behalf.

The petition speaks volumes, and hopefully the hearing will as well.

Debbie Lawrance, White Rock