White Rock residents will get to have their say – again – in another public hearing for the controversial six-storey rental-only White Birch apartment building proposed for 1485 Fir Street.
The proposal, which was defeated at third reading following a public hearing held Jan 18., was back before city council for reconsideration on Monday night (April 26) with an increased affordable housing component.
With only Coun. Scott Kristjanson and Coun Erika Johanson in opposition, council voted to rescind the previous second reading and give it another, which means the development must be scheduled and advertised for a new public hearing.
The reconsideration was at the suggestion of Couns. Christopher Trevelyan and Anthony Manning, who said the proposal merits a second look since the proponent has said that a further eight of its 80 units will be secured for 10 years at rents 10 per cent under the prevailing market rates for similar units.
Manning said the new version is in keeping with the 10-10-10 formula developed by the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation for the affordable housing component of new housing.
He added that it would also serve as a test case for a “made-in-White Rock definition of affordability” currently under development by the city, and that existing tenants would still be protected under tenant policies introduced last year, and a compensation package agreed to by the developers that would either cover relocation costs or offer units at a discount to returning tenants.
“(Having) 33 units below market out of 80, I think, is a better deal than 25,” Manning said.
Johanson said, however, that a 10 per cent discount on rent is still not affordable.