Around 200 people packed White Rock Community Centre before the 2018 election for public hearings on two proposals for highrises in the 1300-block of Johnston Road. (File photo)

Around 200 people packed White Rock Community Centre before the 2018 election for public hearings on two proposals for highrises in the 1300-block of Johnston Road. (File photo)

White Rock council to renew focus on limiting building heights

OCP review modified to reflect 2018 election mandate

White Rock council has voted to narrow the focus of the current Official Community Plan review, returning to a concentration on building heights and density in the city.

Primary areas given attention will be the Town Centre – which in the past year has seen a spate of highrise building on projects approved by the previous council – plus surrounding transitional zones of lower-level development, and the Marine Drive waterfront.

Council unanimously endorsed the motion from Coun. Erika Johanson at its regular meeting – held online – on Nov. 23.

Johanson’s motion came amid discussion of the much broader issue of realigning council’s strategic priorities.

Chief Administrative Officer Guillermo Ferrero, in an update report, outlined many ways in which this is being done, at council’s direction, in response to significant impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both Ferrero and Carl Isaak, White Rock’s planning and development services director, commented that limiting the OCP review focus, as Johanson suggested, would likely mean an earlier completion of the entire review (originally projected for the end of 2021, although completion of some aspects is already expected before then) although Ferrero said a further report would be necessary to arrive at a specific time frame.

Isaak said reducing the scope might also result in moving up other items on staff’s priority list, such as zoning bylaw review for single family or coach homes and the city’s housing needs report.

In making the motion, Johanson said the purpose was to reaffirm the campaign platform that she and other successful Democracy Direct White Rock council candidates (Mayor Darryl Walker, Coun. Scott Kristjanson, Coun. Anthony Manning and Coun. Christopher Trevelyan) had run on in the municipal election of 2018.

“It included density and lowering heights as one of the objectives,” she said.

“We felt that the OCP review was necessary to confirm our suspicions that most people don’t want the highrises, and I think the review is showing that that, in fact, is the case.”

The rest of the items included in the OCP review, she said, were “gravy.”

“At the time (these were included), I was new in the position; I thought, ‘I guess if staff has all this time to do all these points, then, why not?’” Johanson added.

“But now here we are at the end of 2020, we’re sending out to developers an OCP that is projecting 29 storeys, 25 storeys. I don’t believe that’s accurate, or that it’s going to last in this council – I’m hoping. I’d like to reduce the scope of the OCP to just the heights and get it done.”

READ ALSO: White Rock to review tower heights in town centre

READ ALSO: City of White Rock requests resident input for OCP review

Coun. Scott Kristjanson seconded Johanson’s motion.

“I can’t agree more,” he said.

“We had a very clear mandate, and it’s fantastic that we’ve opened up the OCP review to such a huge scope, but, at the same time, we need to get things done and show progress. I think, (to) Coun. Johanson’s point, it’s not fair to property owners to give them a perception that we’re going to allow 29 storeys, when really what we’re hearing from residents, I think, was 11 or 12 storeys, max.

“We need to focus on level-setting with our developers and property owners on what people want in their community.”

Coun. Helen Fathers said she also favoured Johanson’s motion, noting that other OCP topics, such as strengthening transit, and examining Peace Arch Hospital expansion were either moot, or not as pressing.

“I might not be on the same page as Coun. Kristjanson and Coun. Johanson as regards the heights in the Town Centre – I think somewhere between 10 storeys and 18 storeys might be a better option – but I’m certainly in favour of bringing it forward,” she said.

“We don’t have a lot of time left, and as Coun. Johanson has identified, it is most certainly what the community is looking for, some kind of clear and concise direction.”

Mayor Darryl Walker voiced some concern that some other OCP areas – such as “greening” the city and monitoring OCP progress – might be missed by narrowing the scope of the review.

“While I don’t disagree with the motion, and the idea of limiting heights, it seems to me there’s a heck of a lot more in the OCP, and in our strategic plan, than simply limiting heights.”

Fathers also said she would not like to see “greening” neglected, but Johanson said it’s her understanding that much of the work reviewing the town centre’s public space and green space policies has already been done.

Coun. Christopher Trevelyan said he was also “generally supportive” of Johanson’s motion.

“I think other parts of the OCP are important, but one of the most timely is height and density,” he said.

“There are developers and other interested parties wanting to know what the rules are, and that’s the most pressing for us, quite frankly.”

Coun. David Chesney, who ultimately voted in favour of the motion, said he wasn’t sure that there was a point to reviewing height and density concerns as public turnout to some OCP open houses had been as few as 25 to 30 people.

“I understand Democracy Direct’s desire to live up to their election platform,” he said.

But Johanson countered that some other meetings had gathered as many as 140 people, while Kristjanson said he did not view low turnout to some meetings as indicative of resident apathy.

“I think it actually speaks volumes that we’re on the right page,” he said.

“I think you’ll remember that previous councils had public hearings where there were a couple of hundred people involved. That’s probably because they weren’t happy with what was happening.

“Most people just want to get on with their lives, and if we’re on the right page, people will probably not show up in the hundreds that we saw four years ago.”



alex.browne@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

City of White Rockdevelopment

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pixabay image
Surrey recovers 29,000 jobs it lost to pandemic

That’s according to Surrey Board of Trade’s fifth Surrey Labour Market Intelligence Report on COVID-19

A worker is seen throwing a chicken in an undercover video in 2017 filmed by California-based animal rights activists Mercy For Animals.
Fraser Valley chicken abuse trial delayed until February

Originally scheduled for a jury trial, Sofina and Chilliwack company now face judge alone

Desmond Tompkins helped curate and host a youth art show at the South Surrey/White Rock Learning Centre. (Contributed photo)
South Surrey/White Rock Learning Centre art show highlights ‘diverse perspectives’

With COVID-19 protocols in place, youth art show underway

The SACH Community Hub team, from left to right: Upkar Singh Tatlay, Gary Thandi, Allysha Ram, Jassy Pandher, Harman Pander. (Submitted photo)
There’s help for South Asian men wrestling with drug addiction in Surrey

South Asian deaths related to toxic drugs increased by 255 per cent between 2015 and 2018

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) is looking into the death of man discovered Jan. 11 in east Maple Ridge. (Black Press files)
B.C.’s police watchdog investigating man’s death in Maple Ridge

Man was found dead Jan. 11 after recent contact with police

Chilliwack Law Courts. (Black Press file)
Man sentenced to 20 months for sexual offences involving a minor in Mission

Will Laws Clark was 22 and victim was 13 at time offences began

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

The Abbotsford Tulip Festival is permanently closing, with plans to eventually set up in Armstrong, B.C. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Abbotsford Tulip Festival is closing, with plans to rebloom in Armstrong

Event organizer says pandemic and sale of land were factors in decision

Most Read