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White Rock rental development project rejected by city council at first readings

Thrift Avenue-Vidal Street building plan needs revisions councillors say
White Rock council defeated a rezoning motion for a four story rental building at Thrift Avenue and Vidal Street an a three-to-three split vote. (File photo)

White Rock council has sent a much-discussed four-storey, 82-unit rental apartment building planned for Thrift Avenue and Vidal Street back to the developers, the WestStone Group, for potential revisions.

Massing, and the length of the building, still seemed to be the sticking points as far as council was concerned, prompting a split vote that defeated the development at first and second readings for the rezoning of the property (at 14937 Thrift Ave. and 1441, 1443 through 1445 and 165 Vidal St.).

Staff had recommended first and second readings and scheduling a public hearing on the project in what CAO Guillermo Ferrero termed “the interests of fairness,” since council had made what appeared to be a premature decision on the project while it was still in the Advisory Design Panel (ADP) process and at the council committee level.

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The plan had been revised to reduce the height from six storeys to four, based on the city’s measurement averaging formula for such sloping sites.

Coun. Anthony Manning enumerated the continuing problems the city has with the plan, while holding out some hope to the developers that revisions to the plan might meet approval.

“I think WestStone should be acknowledged for bringing this proposal forward,” he said. “They do recognize that our rental buildings are aging and need replacement.”

Manning said the project was “ambitious,” but that, in its present form, “it reaches a bit too far.”

“Yes, the design does conform to the (Official Community Plan), but it has fallen short of addressing a number of concerns that were brought forward by the ADP,” he said.

While he acknowledged reducing height from six to four storeys was a major change, he said developers have yet to deal with the issue of massing, which had been raised by the ADP at all four meetings in which the project had been discussed.

“When the project returned to the ADP for a final time on Sept. 21 (2021) the concerns were repeated that the building is too long, should have included a break, has a domino effect on issues related to landscaping, and that they were struggling with some aspects that could be improved.”

“It’s significant to me that, at this final meeting, the panel, which is comprised of architectural and development professionals who live in our community, withdrew their motion to endorse the proposal and declined recommending it to council.”

Manning said he remained confident, however, that the company “can fully address all the ADP’s concerns.”

“I look forward to reconsidering this proposal again, soon,” he said.

Mayor Darryl Walker, who supported the motion, said he thought the ADP had taken too long in the process of raising its concerns, rather than raising all of them at the same time.

“I think it’s right for (the developers) to be allowed to have a public hearing. The public will tell us more than I think the ADP has told us…” he said. “This proponent has come forward a number of times and has tried to work with this council and in this community. We will be seeing this back here again in whatever way, shape or form.”

The motion was defeated on a three-to-three split, with Walker, and Couns. Christopher Trevelyan and David Chesney voting for, and Manning and Couns. Scott Kristjanson and Erika Johanson voting against.

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About the Author: Alex Browne

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