Attendees of a recent information session look over proposed plans for the Ocean Beach Hotel site on White Rock’s Marine Drive.

Attendees of a recent information session look over proposed plans for the Ocean Beach Hotel site on White Rock’s Marine Drive.

Losing faith in White Rock

Given recent developments, it just makes sense for White Rock to amalgamate with Surrey, letter-writers say.

Editor:

Perhaps the time has come for White Rock residents to throw in their lot with Surrey.

Once upon a time, we felt ourselves to be a close community of seaside dwellers sharing an idyllic lifestyle, the envy of the whole province.

However, this is no longer the case. While we still enjoy a magnificent location, it is patently obvious that such a small city is unsustainable.

Our businesses are fleeing the high taxes for opportunities elsewhere. Our community plan is being usurped by highrises and wall-to-wall mega-houses. Young families cannot afford to buy here and commit to a 30-40 per cent higher annual levy than on the other side of North Bluff.

Because of the need for more revenue to fund our inefficient system, city hall has adopted a high-density policy that results in everyone paying more for less. Our councillors now feel they are not being remunerated adequately. Instead of voting themselves a raise, perhaps they should become statesmen – and women – and apply their energies to a brighter future for us all.

I suggest council hold a referendum to discover the depth of support the residents of White Rock may have for amalgamation with the City of Surrey. A “yes” vote should indicate a mandate for our city hall to attempt to negotiate a fair and equitable re-incorporation.

It behooves us to retire our smug quote “White Rock means never having to say you’re Surrey.” Today, our neighbour to the north has matured into a proud and progressive municipality. Surrey does not have to be sorry anymore!

An amalgamation – if they will have us – would ease our financial distress and relieve the attendant pressure to wipe out what remains of our cherished community.

Mary Ponsford, White Rock

•••

And so I sit down beside my beautiful view of Semiahmoo Bay, curling up to read the March 7 edition of the Peace Arch News.

I notice that project development is high in the news these days, and one needs to stay informed. With the Sausalito, Vidal and muffler-site surprises, who knows what’s next?

Page 3 gets my attention: “Ocean Beach site up for redevelopment.” All of a sudden, I wake up! Terror strikes at my very soul. That is between me and the beach. The enemy is now at my door.

It calls for 35 residential units and a 45-stall parking garage. This can’t be happening, I shout. I saw no public notice or development sign out front. How can they do this, I ponder?

But wait. God bless Peace Arch News. There will be a public meeting in a week. This is very serious. I’d better start reading all the articles in the PAN.

Fast-forward to March 14. I read: “Docks talks bring no relief.” The article deals with coal being shipped to the Surrey docks through, you guessed it, White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin is indignant he was not informed and bemoans this sad state of affairs by saying, “the total lack of public consultation to get to the point where the city has to get its notice from the newspapers.”

Ah ha. A knife in the back. Et tu, Brute, a.k.a your Worship. God bless the PAN.

Lastly, allow me to explain my present dilemma and that of the residents of Victoria Terrace. This beautiful landscaped property is now threatened by a seven-level building directly between it and the beach. That is the plan brought forward by the owners of the Ocean Beach property.

To do this, they require a variance to the height bylaw as it now stands. But, true to form, I am willing to bet they will drop one storey from the plans so that they will satisfy that insane height bylaw which we thought was fixed.

I ask the question: Why can a developer apply for a variance – in this case, an increase in allowable height – because of hardship, when we as neighbours affected by the development cannot apply for a variance – in our case, a reduction in allowable height – because of hardship? Helloooooo! It’s a double standard!

White Rock should stop prostituting itself so it can pay the bills. If this is the only route council can follow, perhaps it is time to join with Surrey.

I am sure Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts appreciates our unique ‘City by the Sea’ and would strive to keep it that way.

Simon Bergen-Henengouwen, White Rock

•••

An open letter to White Rock council.

I would like to register my thoughts on the development proposed for the Ocean Beach Hotel and Victoria Avenue sites.

What is most distressing is that a piece of the personality of the beach is being destroyed. This distinctive building with the curved roof was built in 1930. It is an historic site and a landmark.

Most of us bought here because of the fabulous view and because of the holiday feel of the beach. According to the Ocean Beach web page, “perhaps the best asset of Ocean Beach is its location. (It) has one of the best ocean views you can find anywhere.” It is sad the proposed development would destroy the same valued view for its neighbours, even proposing excess height to assure developers make more money.

Though for many of my neighbours, serious concerns about significant loss of property values when the view is lost is a major issue – some estimates are 20-30 per cent, or $100,000 or so. For those of us who expect to go out of here in a box, this is not the driving issue.

For us, the destruction of the view and the destruction of a landmark is an issue; the lack of imagination used in planning for beach-area development is an issue. On our morning walks, we will see an edifice rather than a beach. We will see storefronts reminiscent of strip malls… yuck.

I recognize that planning for restoration/redevelopment of the beach area is complex. I also understand the additional major factor for the City of White Rock is the need to maximize tax revenues. I know that councillors are under-paid.

I look at neighbouring Crescent Beach and see that they have been able to keep large developments away from their ‘precious jewel’ and wonder if it is not time to rejoin Surrey.

Lower taxes, less need for large development, perhaps an opportunity to preserve what is precious about our beach community.

Please, I implore you to be thoughtful and courageous as you consider these proposals.

Julie Lefever, White Rock