File illustration A rendering of the final gateway arch design, rejected by White Rock council on Monday.

City abandons plan for $1m archway

White Rock council rejects revised design, leaving concept to next council

White Rock council has rejected the latest and final proposed design for an uptown arch over Johnston Road – effectively handing off any consideration of such a structure to a new council.

At Monday evening’s council meeting – which was not attended by gateway feature selection committee chair Coun. Grant Meyer or Mayor Wayne Baldwin – the five council members present unanimously voted down the committee’s recommended option for the decorative arch, for which the city had earmarked $1 million.

The vote came after committee member Coun. Lynne Sinclair told council she could not endorse the design – which in its revised version featured an archway supported by stone pillars topped by lighthouses – because the process had been rushed and had not allowed sufficient reflection on a design that would be “authentic” to White Rock.

“This has been a hard process for me,” she said, noting she had tried, as a committee member, to make the process work.

“When this came forward to remove it from the public art realm and put it in another realm, I didn’t fully understand the significance that the change meant for the process,” she said.

Sinclair said she had expected that a design for a gateway feature would be tendered first, rather than the feature being tendered as an infrastructure project.

“It really profoundly changed it from one that would be authentic, original and unique to White Rock, to one that really went to companies that build things, as opposed to design things.”

Echoing statements that public art advisory committee chair and fellow gateway committee member Jim Adams made in May, Sinclair said the timeline for the project was a major concern.

“I didn’t see why we were rushing because I think whatever is put in there is going to matter to White Rockers for a long time,” Sinclair said, noting that while the public had been consulted on earlier options, input had not been sought on the revised version.

“It has to be something that we like, something we feel a sense of belonging to, as our major gateway to the town, and I think the timeline has prohibited us from allowing that. I’m not against a gateway project – I just think we need to go about it (differently). Maybe the next council will be the ones to do that.”

Coun. Helen Fathers spoke in support of Sinclair’s comments criticizing the design.

“The archway is a little bit boring, a little bit uninspiring,” she said, noting she felt the process had been fair and the members of the committee had “meant well.”

“When you look at the (renderings) it doesn’t look like the White Rock that we’ll have in two years time or in five years time. I agree that it should be passed on to the next council – it’s a lot of money to spend, and I don’t know what the rush is.”

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