Density/Development/OCP

A City Council that works for everyone… not just a few.

Density/Development/OCP

Density

White Rock residents need not look very far to see the impacts of rapid and apparently random densification within the 1.98 square mile area of the City of White Rock. The impacts on liveability to the Community are immediate and the taxes and fees paid by residents and property owners continue to escalate.

The Community has not had a legitimate say in how unwelcome change in our Community has been imposed upon residents. This Council has ignored what the residents have had to say about what they want the Community that they live in to look like.

Official Community Plan

Rezoning Bylaws and the Official Community Plan (OCP) guide density and development in White Rock. OCPs are provided for in Section 471 of the Local Government Act(LGA). An OCP is a statement of the objectives and policies that a municipality will use to guide decisions on planning and land use management within the municipality.

It is not mandatory for a municipality to adopt an OCP, but most in BC do. An OCP does not commit or authorize a municipality to proceed with any project that is specified in its OCP, but once an OCP is adopted, all bylaws enacted or works undertaken by the municipality must be consistent with the OCP in effect.

That is why, in addition to frequent “spot rezoning”, White Rock residents have experienced so many “spot OCP amendments” in recent years. Without these OCP Amendments, non-OCP compliant development projects, such as the 24 and 21 storey towers approved for the former EPCOR lands at 1454 Oxford Street, could not have lawfully proceeded.

However, this Council does not always amend the OCP as required. For example, Section 4.2.18 of Bylaw 1837 (the old OCP) stipulated that the area between East Beach and West Beach known as the Hump “must be maintained in its natural state”. An OCP Amendment was required but was not undertaken by Council prior to the clear cut of the Hump in 2015. The new OCP does not have this stipulation; that is, the Hump is no longer environmentally protected in the OCP.

In October 2017, White Rock Council voted unanimously and controversially to adopt the “new” OCP as Bylaw 2220. Prior to this, White Rock’s OCP was Bylaw 1837, first adopted in 2008.

Regional Growth Strategy (RGS)

As a member municipality of the Regional District of Metro Vancouver, White Rock is also guided by Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy (RGS). The RGS focuses on land use policies to guide the future development of the region and support the efficient provision of transportation, regional infrastructure and community services. In combination with other management plans, Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy can help meet the region’s priorities and mandates and support the long-term commitment to sustainability.

In 2011, when White Rock’s population was 19,700, growth projections were made in the RGS for White Rock. These projections were revised in 2015 to 20,500 people by 2021, 22,000 people by 2031 and 23,500 by 2041. Following the revision of the White Rock RGS population projections in 2015, White Rock’s then Director of Planning and Development Services advised Council that all White Rock’s population growth as projected by the RGS could be accommodated within the existing Town Centre. This would meet the RGS objective of ensuring a compact urban centre.

But, as White Rock residents have witnessed, this has not prevented the Council from approving high rises and high-density projects outside of the designated Town Centre on Oxford Street, on Nichol Street, on Thrift Avenue, on Best Street, on Finlay Street and on Johnston Road south of Thrift Avenue.

That is why Democracy Direct is calling for a moratorium on the approval of any further high rises in White Rock until the Community can get a good, solid sense of what our Community is really like and how neighbourhood livability is impacted by with all this densification.

Community Amenity Contributions (CACs)

Section 482 of the Local Government Actallows municipalities to increase allowable densities in exchange for providing community amenities.CACs are negotiated as part of the rezoning process. CACs maybe used for the provision of amenities, affordable housing and/or financial contributions towards amenities, and may also be taken in cash. Differing municipalities take differing positions on what they consider is an appropriate and valid “amenity” to which CAC money taken from developers can be applied to.

The current Council is using most of the CAC money not for the Community at large, but for projects benefiting special interest groups like the waterfront parkade for tourists to aid waterfront businesses, like Memorial Park which again benefits tourists and local businesses or for “ego projects” like the $1,000,000 planned arch across Johnston Road.

White Rock does not take the same approach as Coquitlam, who says: “CACs are a voluntary financial contribution made by an applicant to a municipality at the time of rezoning of a property to assist with offsetting the burden of the development on the community.”

White Rock’s Council Policy 511 on CACs requires no Public input, dialogue or consultation and, in 2016, the City amended its CAC Policy to match and mirror Council’s “strategic goals” of gentrifying the beach. These “strategic goals”‘ were the result of “facilitated” strategic planning meetings in early 2015, which were actually improperly and unlawfully closed meetings of Council. The only Public input of any nature that the City ever got on how and where to use CACs was apparently from the Economic Investment Committee and the Public Art Committee.

CACs can take several forms including community amenities, affordable housing and financial contributions towards infrastructure that cannot be obtained through DCCs, such as recreation facilities or a fire hall. Further, the BC Government specifically encourages the use of CACs on housing affordability and this Council has specifically ignored this issue.

Democracy Direct White Rock objectives:

  • A moratorium on the approval of any further high rises in White Rock until the completion of the 14 towers already approved by the current Council so that our Community can get a good, solid sense of what our Community is really like and how neighbourhood liveability is impacted with all this densification.
  • Rescind project approval if Development Permits are not in place within two years of project approval.
  • Establishment of a “Good Neighbour Policy” for builders and contractors to mitigate the impacts of new construction and densification on existing residents and businesses. This Policy will establish a formal process that will require developers, builders and contractors to keep neighbours informed about a project, its deadlines, and special events like pile driving or concrete pouring, as well as respond to neighbourhood complaints and concerns over noise, dust, lighting, hours of work, parking and even worker behaviour. This policy will make Community Relations an integral part of doing development business in White Rock.
  • A post-audit review of the 2017 OCP with full, open, and true Public engagement. The City will provide a point-by-point comparison of the changes between the old OCP (Bylaw 1837) and the new OCP (Bylaw 2220), along with details why these changes were made.
  • A revision of the City’s CAC policy with full public engagement so that CACs serve to ease the burden of development on the Community and better benefit residents whose livability has been impacted by development and densification.
  • A commitment to take action to ensure that the Age-friendly, Disability-friendly, Affordable Housing and Rental Housing “policies” contained in the new OCP are adhered to.

Sources:

Official Community Plans: http://www.cscd.gov.bc.ca/lgd/planning/official_community_plans.htm

Regional Growth Strategy: http://www.metrovancouver.org/services/regional-planning/PlanningPublications/RGSAdoptedbyGVRDBoard.pdf

Community Amenity Contributions: http://www.cscd.gov.bc.ca/lgd/planning/community_amenity.htm

Local Government Act: http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/content/complete/statreg/76470131/15001_00d/?xsl=/templates/browse.xsl

White Rock OCP 2008: https://www.whiterockcity.ca/assets/City~Services/Bylaws/Official-Community-Plan-1837.pd

White Rock OCP 2017: https://www.whiterockcity.ca/EN/main/city/city-projects/imaginewhiterock.html