White Rock’s historic Elm Street will retain its Waterfront Village designation in the OCP, but with stipulations of lower height and density than waterfront commercial buildings in any future redevelopment. (File photo)

White Rock’s historic Elm Street will retain its Waterfront Village designation in the OCP, but with stipulations of lower height and density than waterfront commercial buildings in any future redevelopment. (File photo)

White Rock council reverses position on Elm Street designation

Waterfront Village designation retained, but with reduced height and density

White Rock council has done an about-face on its April 12 decision to remove Elm Street – home to some of the last early-20th century homes in the city – from the Waterfront Village land use designation in the Official Community Plan.

The contentious change in direction came at Monday’s (May 31) Land Use and Planning Committee meeting, chaired by Coun. Christopher Trevelyan, in which council took note of letters from owners of the three most historic houses.

All three said that while they had every intention of maintaining the historic character of their houses – aside from some interior renovations – they were not prepared to take the hit at their property values they say would be the result of council’s earlier decision to re-designate the street as Mature Neighbourhood.

A motion to amend the height and density review bylaw, from Coun. Anthony Manning, followed an alternative suggestion of staff that the buildings remain in the Waterfront Village designation, but with a three-storey limit on height and density limits more suited to residential than commercial development.

READ ALSO: Elm Street OCP designation changed by White Rock council

READ ALSO: Narrow escape for 100-year-old White Rock home

As finally adopted by council, on a 4-3 split vote (with Couns. David Chesney, Erika Johanson and Helen Fathers voting against it), the amendment states that consideration be given to development of Elm Street, but also that consideration be given to the character of existing houses.

“Can we specify that any future development in that area, in addition to remaining at three storeys, must conform to a similar character as the homes that are there now?” Manning asked planning and development director Carl Isaak.

Manning noted that a strata development on the west side of the street, from the 1990s, had been designed with a similar “cottage” look to the older houses.

Isaak said that, as the existing houses are currently designated duplex, any multi-family development would require a rezoning, which would mean the city could stipulate form and character “in the context of the neighbourhood.”

“I don’t think we’d like to see a new build coming along on Elm Street that is simply a big box,” Manning said.

He said he had proposed the motion because “we need to give the neighbourhood some certainty, but we also need to give the property owners some certainty, too.”

In a letter to council and the planning department Tara Leigh, owner, with her husband Lane Laycock, of one of the historic homes – 1148 Elm St. – said “we take pride in owning and care-taking part of White Rock’s history.”

And, she added, “like our neighbours of the other two homes built in 1911 beside ours, we do not want the houses to be replaced in the near future.

“At the same time, we have invested everything we financially have into this home. We want to live here and see our investment grow. We do not wish to see our property values take a hit merely because some individuals do not want to see any changes to the neighbourhood.”

Johanson, who made the original motion to switch the Elm Street homes from the Waterfront Village designation to Mature Neighbourhood, was adamant that council should be doing more to retain the heritage aspect of the street, pointing out that there is no heritage designation for homes in White Rock.

“I’m quite surprised,” she said following Manning’s motion.

“I thought the whole point of removing it from Waterfront Village was to maintain exactly those properties as is – certainly not to turn it into multi-family.

“That’s what the neighbourhood wants, they want to keep those cottages there,” she said.

She added that owners of older cottages nearby on Beachview Avenue have also indicated they don’t intend to sell their properties, and noted that the owners of the three homes on Elm Street stated in their letters that they have made significant investment into retaining the character of their homes for the future.

“Again, it’s about density as (much) as anything else,” Johanson said.

“But to me, this is heritage, it’s the last three that we’ve got and I certainly won’t be supporting it.”

Mayor Darryl Walker said the decision to re-designate Elm Street “may have been been made in a little bit of a hurry.”

“Those three heritage buildings, if indeed they are heritage buildings – they should remain and there should be no change in that.”

Walker said, however, that some buildings on Elm will likely need to be replaced sooner or later, although “nothing will happen without consultation with neighbours.”

“(This) does give a bit of flexibility to getting something new in there.”

Supporting Johanson’s stance were Coun. David Chesney – who said he was also concerned that introducing larger-scale multi-family development to Elm would be “folly” due to an increase of traffic – and Coun. Scott Kristjanson (who ultimately voted, however, in favour of Manning’s motion).

“The OCP is about setting expectations for our neighbourhoods,” Kristjanson said, adding that while he is not in favour of “spot-zoning” it could be a possibility for some future development proposal.

“This is about vision and protecting people’s views, and I think we need to do that – that’s what we were elected to do,” he said.

But Trevelyan said he had concerns about being fair to the owners of the three small properties and the larger 1930s apartment four-plex at 1164 Elm St., which has already been the subject of one redevelopment proposal.

“It’s hard to reduce someone’s property value to make someone else’s view last,” he said. “That’s a bit of a challenge, and that’s exactly what we’re proposing here.

“I’m not in favour of a huge, dense building,” he added, noting that development could be limited to a row of townhouses similar to those on the west side.

“In terms of saving those homes, it’s easy for me to say when it’s not my money. Property’s very expensive in White Rock, and unless we want to step up (with) the $5 million to make those heritage homes, I can’t impose on some else that they have to keep a nice old, rustic home when I’ve no financial stake in the game.”



alex.browne@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

City of White RockdevelopmentHeritage

Just Posted

A Grade 8 class at L.A. Matheson Secondary. March 2021. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
B.C.’s return-to-school plan good, but Surrey teachers hope there is room for adjustments

Surrey school district to receive $1.76M of the $25.6M provincial pandemic-related funding

Surrey Fire Service battled a dock fire along the Fraser River late Friday night (June 18). It was on Musqueam Drive, near Industrial Road, around 10:45 p.m. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Fire engulfs pier on Surrey side of the Fraser River

Pier has reportedly been unused for a long time

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Most Read