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White Rock council looks to 2045 with new community plan

Official Community Plan includes more housing and better access to the waterfront

Imagine White Rock 2045 Phase 3 Public Engagement Sessions on Policy Directions and Growth Management. Courtesy of white rock.ca
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Reported by Sydney Morton

White Rock council has unanimously approved a new Official Community Plan that envisions what the seaside municipality will look like by 2045.

Council’s adoption Oct. 23 of the wide-ranging plan comes after more than two years of meetings in which feedback from the public helped shape what is considered “a living document.”

“We made sure to consult with the community a lot, which was really good, but the community thinks this is set in stone which is where the mistake is made,” said Coun. Helen Fathers. “There is no legal requirement to follow this and anyone can come asking to have it changed. The focus needs to be on steady growth.”

The plan calls for residents to have better access to the waterfront, the expansion and diversification of the town centre, create more housing opportunities for different age groups and demographics, and add public green spaces.

Simultaneous preservation and development

Other objectives of the plan include preserving the pre-existing character and architecture of diverse neighbourhoods and providing more housing while maintaining “White Rock’s high quality of life.”

The new plan replaces what many considered an out-of-date document to guide a municipality’s future growth, which is expected to increase by 23,000 to 27,000 people by 2045. White Rock’s current population is 93,729.

Cliff Annable, executive director of the White Rock Chamber of Commerce and a former councillor who worked on the previous community plan, said he favours more highrises to accommodate the expected population growth.

“Why hide the most beautiful view in the world?” Annable told The Voice. “We have these out-of-date three-storey apartments from the 60s and 70s that are taking up space. Take the same building, add some green space and make a highrise.”

Planning for expansion

Fitting more people in a small city that consists of steep hills topped with multi-storey, and single-family homes, some of which have been converted into apartments, will be a challenge.

The majority of White Rock residents are between the ages of 15 to 64. Despite the myth that White Rock is a retirement community, statistics from the 2016 Census show only 30 per cent of residents are 65 or older. The predominant language spoken is English.

Coun. Grant Meyer believes the plan should have called for more densification of some neighbourhoods. That way, he added, more families could be accommodated in smaller neighbourhoods such as near Peace Arch Hospital and along North Bluff Road.

Despite the plan not being a legally enforced document, Meyer said the two-year process to envision White Rock’s future was not a waste of time.

“The OCP is supposed to be a living document, and it can always be amended to reflect the current time,” Meyer said. “We especially needed an update, it had been almost 15 years.”

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