WHITE ROCK - Councillors, city workers and members of the South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce came out Thursday night for the mayor's annual State of the City Address.
About 150 people gathered at the White Rock Community Centre hear Mayor Wayne Baldwin discuss the city's plans. He announced a by-election on Nov. 3 to fill the position of longtime councillor Mary-Wade Anderson, who passed away in June.
"Our current council is functioning extremely well, but we have a vacancy that has to be filled," said Baldwin in his first State of the City Address since he was elected in November.
"It's very important that we get a person who's progressive to fill that spot - someone who's able to work with the existing team and will readily work to make White Rock move forward, not backward."
He also lauded the recent additions of Dan Bottrill as chief administrative officer, Eric Stepura as director of leisure services and Greg St. Louis as director of engineering and municipal operations.
"As a council, we're pleased to have a complete senior management team there to serve our community," he said.
Baldwin outlined the city's plans, which include attracting investors and developers, giving the waterfront a makeover and make changes to pay parking along the beach. Council is looking into creating a tiered parking structure, likely near where Victoria Avenue meets Vidal Street, and would also like to put the power lines along Marine Drive underground.
Baldwin also said he wants to make housing in White Rock affordable for young families.
"I want to make sure that my children and grandchildren have the opportunity to continue living in our beautiful city," he said. "I don't want to see them priced out of the market."
Council also plans to add more water sports along the beach, including rentals for kayaks and paddleboards.
As well, Baldwin said the city hopes to expand the local arts scene as an attraction for visitors.
"Currently, we have one industry: tourism," he said. "As we move forward, we're going to make the arts our second industry."
The council is currently exploring ideas suggested at a public forum several months ago to make White Rock more artsy. Suggestions include starting a week-long arts festival in October, extending Beecher Square in front of museum eastward to hold more artists and removing restrictions on the time of year that they can display their works.