Integrity, transparency and trust.
Those were the three most common words being thrown around during a recent public hearing over a contentious residential/commercial development proposed for White Rock's waterfront.
The site in question is the old White Rock Mufflers shop located at the corner of Marine Drive and Oxford Street, which was acquired developer LLW Holdings Ltd. last summer. The developer is seeking permission to build a 62-unit residential complex with commercial spaces, a change from the 67-unit site originally proposed. However, while there would be fewer units with the new proposal, the height and square footage of the buildings would increase.
For the dozens who signed up to speak, many seemed set on shaming council into voting against a proposed bylaw amendment by questioning the faith the public should have in them and city staff. The amendment in question would allow for the developer to increase the height of the development from what has already been approved in first and second reading in order to put up a four-storey structure instead of three.
"I see frustration, confusion and an increasingly lack of trust in council," said resident Holly Whitehead to council. "We are tired of defending what was promised to us (as residents)."
Referring to an error by the planning department that saw a miscalculation of the gross floor area - one that would have given developers more than they asked for, but would be correctly amended - Whitehead wondered what is going on at city hall.
"The flood plain error is shocking and causes me to question integrity from planning department why should the public be punished with diminished view," she said. "I urge you to listen. Imagine how different this could be if neighbours felt respect and honoured."
For fellow resident Kathryn Leliever, she was concerned about the increase in density in the area, saying she moved to the area knowing it was a small town.
"I believe a lot of people come here because it's a quaint town," said Leliever. "I like it here, and if I wanted density I could have moved to Morgan Creek. I also oppose something when the plan changes, because where is that trust?"
Also in the crowd of opponents was White Rock Coun. Lynne Sinclair, who sat on council when the proposal had first come through.
"I have to say that doesn't resemble at all what I voted for," said Sinclair. "As a hillside resident, it is a game inches. I know I'm going to lose some of my view at some point I have a one-storey house but it's hard even when (new developments) fit the rules. I can't live with it if the rules are broken.
"If I was on council I wouldn't have voted to let it get this far. I don't think it deserves to be at a public hearing and I urge you to defeat this and preserve views on the hillside. This is not about no development, it's about the development approved within the height limits."
After the list of speakers had run its course, the development's architect, perhaps sensing the discontent in the room, got up before council and informed the room that the developer had agreed to revert back to the original development plan, dropping a proposed townhouse unit in the middle of the complex in favour of some green space and agreeing to the current height restrictions.
Council is expected to vote on the bylaw amendment at a future council meeting.
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