White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker delivered an upbeat State of the City address at a morning meeting hosted by the South Surrey White Rock Chamber of Commerce at Blue Frog Studios Tuesday (Nov. 16).
Speaking to business leaders and community advocates, Walker took a determinedly optimistic tack in which he offered praise for the chamber and the White Rock BIA, for city staff, for White Rock Fire and Rescue, White Rock RCMP, city committees and council members – as well as such groups as Sources Community Resources.
Walker also had kudos for MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay and MLA Trevor Halford, with whom, he said, he will soon be having discussions on developing ideas for more affordable housing and respite housing.
Walker also mentioned the positive contributions of the Semiahmoo First Nation, describing the city’s relationship with the nation as “essential…to our community.”
“There are many reasons to feel optimistic about our future,” he said.
Chamber executive director Ritu Khanna pointed out that the meeting, although attended online by some, was the first in-person meeting scheduled by the organization in close to two years, outside of its golf tournament.
Noting that White Rock will return to in-person public council meetings next Monday (Nov. 22), Walker looked back on a difficult three years in office for the current council.
“It’s been hard work, through unprecedented and challenging times,” he said, adding that has included some 20 months of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve become Zoom stars – but we didn’t want be Zoom stars,” he said. “I want to look somebody in the eye, and have a coffee and share a laugh with them.”
“We get better working together,” he said, adding that the community has shown its mettle through the pandemic.
“It’s been supportive, generous, resilient and held steady, in spite of the challenges.”
Walker also had praise for the meeting venue – Blue Frog Studios – which he described as an “icon within our community.”
White Rock has also been fortunate to have support from other levels of government, he said, adding that the city has already received some $561,000 in grants so far in 2021 – “with a further $782, 000 coming, in addition to the COVID-19 grant.”
Walker also reviewed the city’s progress on its Strategic Priorities list – including reduced maximum building heights uptown and on the waterfront; additional housing coming on-stream and an additional $3 million from community amenity contributions that will be directed to increasing affordable housing in the city.