The public hearing for the White Birch proposal for a six-storey rental-only building for 1485 Fir St., delayed by pandemic restrictions in November, will most likely receive a virtual public hearing in mid to late January – once statutory publication requirements are met. Contributed rendering

The public hearing for the White Birch proposal for a six-storey rental-only building for 1485 Fir St., delayed by pandemic restrictions in November, will most likely receive a virtual public hearing in mid to late January – once statutory publication requirements are met. Contributed rendering

White Rock rental building hearing due to happen in new year

Public process to resume in fully virtual format

A much-delayed proposal for a rental-only building in White Rock will finally receive a public hearing – most likely in mid to late January.

The White Birch proposal for an 80-unit, six-storey apartment building at 1485 Fir St. – originally scheduled for its hearing on Nov. 23 – is the largest project among five public hearings put on hold by council on Nov. 9.

That decision came in response to provincial pandemic health orders prohibiting gatherings until further notice. (The other delayed hearings include one for a three-lot subdivision, while the remainder are for duplex approvals.

At council’s online meeting Dec. 7, council unanimously endorsed moving forward with a fully virtual format for public hearings, allowing the meetings to be rescheduled, but acknowledging a two- to three-week delay to allow for the statutory public notices to be published and distributed in mail-outs.

The previous practice, following the declaration of the COVID-19 emergency in March, was holding a semi-virtual meeting in which in-person public participation at the White Rock Community Centre was transmitted electronically to council members.

READ ALSO: White Rock rental building public hearing put on hold

READ ALSO: White Rock council increases compensation for displaced tenants

But planning and development services director Carl Isaak told council – in both written and verbal reports recommending the fully virtual format – that staff members believe they can provide sufficient opportunity for public input, which could also include phoned-in comments and written submissions.

Isaak said the only other option would be to continue to defer public hearings – which would result in a backlog. As of Dec. 4, provincial health orders preclude a return to the semi-virtual format at White Rock Community Centre, he said.

Coun. Helen Fathers moved the recommendation.

“I’m really happy to support this,” she said. “I do think we’re heading into a new and different way of doing local government, and I think this is just a first step.”

But Coun. Christopher Trevelyan said he had concerns that searches of the city’s website don’t always bring up current and upcoming public hearings.

“How will people find out about these hearings?” he asked.

Isaak said he would request that the city’s IT department look at improving search functions on the website, after Trevelyan’s comments were echoed by Coun. David Chesney.

Isaak said, however, that the city considers the best route for meeting the statutory publication requirement is through mail-outs and newspaper advertisements – and these will include links for the public hearings and addresses for mailed-in comments.

The White Birch proposal currently before council is a scaled-down version of a project turned down last year by council following public input on density, height and neighborhood impact.

In a report to the city’s Land Use and Planning Committee in October, Isaak said the project – revised in consultation with city staff – is now in keeping with the OCP ‘Town Centre Transition’ land use designation, and has been improved in both design and neighbourhood impact.



alex.browne@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

City of White Rockdevelopmentrental market

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