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White Birch development to be reconsidered by White Rock council

Application was defeated in January
White Birch proposal includes a six-storey rental-only building for 1485 Fir St. (Contributed rendering)

City of White Rock council are to reconsider a controversial rental development that was shot down in January.

The application involves a six-storey, 80-unit rental building proposed for 1485 Fir Street. The redevelopment, which has been titled White Birch, was to replace an aging three-storey rental, which was built in 1965.

The project was given first and second reading at the Oct. 19 regular council meeting. A public hearing was held Jan. 18 before the bylaw was defeated at a third reading.

Couns. Anthony Manning and Christopher Trevelyan, who voted against the project in January, requested that the item be placed on Monday’s (April 26) agenda for reconsideration.

At January’s meeting, Coun. Erika Johanson listed a number of concerns regarding the project, including compromised views, increased traffic, not enough green space, style of the building, challenges with finding new homes for existing residents, and increased rental rates for returning residents.

RELATED: White Birch developer feels ‘betrayed’ by City of White Rock council

As part of a compensation package, the owner of the property was offering existing tenants up to a 30 per cent discount on market rent if they decided to return to the building once construction was complete.

The package was also to cover the cost of moving, offer additional compensation for tenants impacted by the development and provide tenants three housing options - either in White Rock or within a five-kilometre radius - that are comparable.

The property is subject to new protections granted to tenants by the city late last year.

At its Oct. 19 regular meeting, council voted unanimously to support the recommendation from its land use and planning committee which relates directly to tenant relocation and what’s expected of developers.

The intention of Council Policy 514 and Council Policy 511 was to trade-off amenity contributions required of rental-building developers for higher density, in exchange for increased compensation for displaced tenants.

Under the new policy, tenants are to receive four months’ rent for those for less than one year’s residence, increasing in two-month increments for each year (29 months’ rent for tenants with 15 years of residence, for example).

Compensation can reach a maximum of 44 months’ rent for tenants who have been in their building 30 years or longer.

About the Author: Aaron Hinks

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