Letter writers point to neglect in the City of White Rock

Letter writers point to neglect in the City of White Rock

LETTERS: Readers wade in on waterfront

Letter writers address White Rock's waterfront and more.

Editor:

After reading letter-writer Scott Hind’s comments (Misplaced priorities, Feb. 24), I had to echo much the same sentiments.

We live in a beautiful city that could be so much more with a little vision and by just doing the little things to make it special.

Our public washrooms, boulevards and promenade are examples of the neglect that is leaving our city looking a little shabby.

A few weeks ago, the Lower Mainland media had us in the spotlight with the depiction of Marine Drive as a ‘ghost town’. That sparked a renewed pay-parking debate, with the entire council – all except Coun. Bill Lawrence – inexplicably arriving at the opinion that pay parking was/is not the reason for the numerous business failures and vacancies on Marine Drive, without really arriving at any other reasonable assumption.

Pay parking may not be the only reason for business failures on our front street, but it doesn’t take an economics degree for one to conclude that a consumer is much more likely to frequent a business where there is no charge for parking, as opposed to one where there is a charge, all other factors being equal. This is obviously even more true for shoppers of limited means.

Existing businesses of long standing may be better able to weather the slower winter months due to their loyal customer base – which has usually taken years for them to build up – however, that patronage isn’t something that a new business can rely on, leaving most subject to failure. If one looks at the existing Marine Drive businesses – all old favourites – that theory would seem correct.

To encourage winter traffic for the businesses on Marine Drive, why not allow South Surrey residents to purchase a parking permit or develop a rebate program for those who park and shop in the colder months?

To go ahead with spending millions on a new parkade, without first solving the economic problems that presently exist, seems patently foolish, to put it mildly.

Marty Pedersen, White Rock

• • •

The City of White Rock does not need to get sucked into these periodic cries for help from some of the beachfront retailers. This is a landlord-and-tenant problem and nothing more.

The city has no obligation – and quite frankly no business – getting involved in that relationship.

That the city is going to recapitalize the waterfront at the base of the pier is an excellent example of what its role should be – investing in public spaces. Good for the mayor and council.

The property owners along the waterfront are great at lying in the weeds, letting the city take the flack. They make precious little reinvestment into their assets, unless their retail tenants do it.

The leases are completely net, which means the tenants pay for everything, including the real-estate taxes. And in the face of all their effective disinvestment, the market value of their asset increases.

It is time property owners on the north side of Marine Drive get off their duffs and tell us what they will do to make these private business spaces a better place to be.

Dale Mumford, White Rock

• • •

It was a bright Sunday in February, and we couldn’t resist driving down to the beach to enjoy the sights.

We have been following with interest the letters and articles in Peace Arch News about the state of our ‘City by the Sea,’ many of which have been critical of the way the city seems to be headed at the expense of whatever small-town feel was left here, and we wanted to see how things would appear on a busy beach day.

In the 1.9 kilometres between Oxford and Maple streets, we saw nine closed restaurants, nine closed storefronts and one closed pub – plus four vendors shut for winter.

So far, the ‘clearcut’ on the hump – city council’s attempt to eradicate the blackberry bushes – doesn’t appear to be working well, as that’s mostly what one sees.

The city proposes to spend $5 million on a parkade for 300 vehicles. The intersection of Vine and Marine Drive – close to where the parkade would be built – is already clogged by pedestrians and vehicles, with eastbound traffic held up by anyone attempting to turn left. The occupants of those vehicles, should they wish to actually go to the beach, must haul everything across Marine Drive, across the parking lot, up the stairs to the promenade and walk either half a block north to the pier, or a block and a half west to the first railroad crossing.

They could, of course, be wishing to simply dine at one of the beach establishments, if they can find one open.

And while the city wants to encourage visitors to “stay all day,” its residents are limited to four hours of parking with their resident’s decal.

For those wanting to enjoy West Beach, they should keep their wits about them, as the areas of the shoreline that were washed away by storms of two winters ago have still not been repaired. There are areas where the bank simply falls away at least three feet onto the rocky shore.

There is one decent washroom facility, the other not fit for man, woman nor beast.

And don’t expect to spread your things on grass. There is, of course, a “grassy area” that is mostly hard-packed dirt. Then there is Memorial Park. Our “green space” is no longer considered useful enough – after all, who wants to see children rolling down the slope, teenagers throwing Frisbees, sunbathers? It is to be dug up to “create more open space in the public plaza and better entertainment viewing for those seated on the lawn and the planned amphitheatre seating.” No rolling on the grass here!

As for the tourist kiosk, because most of those using its services are apparently locals and day visitors, it’s got to go. They will have to go elsewhere for information.

No, we must spend $4 million dollars to “upgrade” the area and, at last, rebuild the washrooms. This, on property that the city does not even own.

Walking back on the promenade to our car after sunset, there were no lights. They have been removed from the trees  – “cost saving – and it’s a dark, gloomy walkway.

I have lived here for 40 years and have seen a world of changes in our little city. Sad to say, the current ones are not positive. White Rock has no identity and its council seems bent on pushing through new tower development uptown and allowing a “ghost town” down the hill. With a residential tax base of less than 20,000 people – already B.C.’s fifth densest – we can’t support mega-projects while our main reason for being, the beach and promenade, is allowed to fall into disrepair and ‘the strip’ deteriorates.

Wendy Boyes, White Rock