Do You Want Four More Years of Uncontrolled Development, Crowded Streets, Blocked off beaches, and 3am Train Noise in White Rock?

Our City by the Sea is under attack. By our own city council, lead by Mayor Baldwin and the majority of City Councillors and funded by Greedy Developers who seems to be immune to following the OCP rules and city bylaws. Now Mayor Baldwin has hand-picked a slate of Pro-Development candidates.

Nov 11th Correction: Mayor Baldwin has denied any involvement with the White Rock Pro-Development Coalition. They may have similar goals and campaigns, but Mayor Baldwin denies that he has any connection to the Coalition. Readers should decide for themselves if there is a connection. Our apologies for drawing this conclusion.

Mayor Baldwin hand picks his slate of Pro-Development Candidates

Mayor Baldwin hand picks his slate of Pro-Development Candidates


Notice that councillors Helen Fathers and Alan Campbell are excluded. Mr. Baldwin does not want anyone on Council that he cannot control and who will not put developer’s interests above White Rock citizens. For me, this is an endorsement for both Helen and Al.

While Mr. Baldwin has been Mayor, and previously as CAO at City Hall, a large number of publicly opposed and unsuitable high-density developments have been passed by the Mayor and City Council. All of the following developments were opposed by residents and neighbours, but were approved by council anyway.

  • Bosa Towers – Mr. Baldwin helped push through this very unpopular development and even helped finance the project using your tax dollars to provide the project with a low-interest short-term mortgage worth several million dollars. Under Jean Kromm’s leadership over 3000 household signed a petition against this development. The Citizen’s strong opposition to this project was ignored by City Council and the Bosa Towers started White Rock’s downward high-density demise. Read more about this in this 2006 newspaper article here.
  • White Rock Muffler Shop – Over Height and opposed by vast majority of residents. Mayor “the Boss” Baldwin says “Because I am the Boss” and if you do not like it, there will be an election Nov 15th 2014
  • Evergreen Baptist Care Facility Expansion – Passed despite impact on neighbours and patients. Read more here and here
  • 12-Story Mega Condo at Mariner’s Reach on Vidal Street
  • Carriage Home Fiasco at Thrift and Finlay
  • The Sausalito – City allows building to exceed height restrictions despite neighbour objections
  • Bishop Hill Planning Fiasco costs resident tens of thousands in lost home value
  • Upcoming: Council to give EPCOR $13 Million Land Bonaza
  • TWELVE New 24-Story Mega-Towers Planned for City Center

So with all this development and increased density, why are White Rock Taxes so High? Some people argue that increasing density is a good thing for White Rock and that adding more people will lower our taxes. Nothing could be further from the truth! White Rock has been increasing its density for over a decade now. Let’s see how its working out for our taxes!

Here’s a graph that compares White Rock’s taxes to similar BC Cities. Notice how our taxes are WAY higher! Higher density means Higher Taxes. Check out Pitt Meadows for example. White Rock has about the same population as Pitt Meadows, but the average taxes paid by homeowners in White Rock is DOUBLE what residents in Pitt Meadows pay! And White Rock’s density is TWICE the density of Surrey. Are our taxes lower? Not at all! Our taxes are about 50% higher than Surrey for residents, and 300% higher for businesses. That’s not right!
Why Are White Rock Taxes So High

Increased density increases taxes, lowers your property values, and raises your taxes. Increased density brings increased crime, congestion, and over-crowds our schools. Increased density raises costs for everyone and makes single family housing an unobtainable dream for new families and senior citizens on fixed incomes. Do we really want a city where all the children are raised in condo towers and where are seniors can no longer afford to own their own backyard garden? I do not think so.

Why are housing prices so out of line with average incomes in White Rock? Why is housing so unaffordable? Why do they keep building Condos here in White Rock when the majority sit empty? There are global factors involved that are making it attractive for developers to cram this city with huge empty towers, while making White Rock unaffordable for new families to buy a single family home. City Council is ignoring this important issue and are blinded by their greed for Developer Campaign Contributions. Increased Density hurts our city, kills local business, and drives prices and taxes up. Read more here.

Prosperity is possible without towers. Check out how good city councils with strong vision helped this small Italian town prosper through natural beauty and tourism rather than nasty towers by clicking here.
Prosperity without Towers - Italian Style White Rock could do this too! If White Rock elects a City Council with a vision for the Future.

Why are Housing Prices So High In White Rock?

Why are housing prices so out of line with average incomes in White Rock? Why is housing so unaffordable? Why do they keep building Condos here in White Rock when the majority sit empty? There are global factors involved that are making it attractive for developers to cram this city with huge empty towers, while making White Rock unaffordable for new families to buy a single family home.

City Council is ignoring this important issue and are blinded by their greed for Developer Campaign Contributions. Increased Density hurts our city, kills local business, and drives prices and taxes up.

White Rockers are struggling and choking over the cost of housing. But sensitivities around race have stifled an important debate about how much foreign home ownership is impacting the city. We must tackle foreign home ownership problem head on according to former Crown Prosecuter and anti-Casino advocate Sandy Garossino

We must tackle foreign home ownership problem head on says Sandy Garossino

We must tackle foreign home ownership problem head on says Sandy Garossino

Read the article by Sandy Garossino details here. Then vote for a City Council that says NO to excessive density. Vote for the People who live here, not the Developers who do not.

Do not Let White Rock City Hall Ignore the OCP and Destroy our City By the Sea and Your Home’s Resale Value!

In front of a packed city council meeting on Monday Sept 8th, White Rock planning Director Karen Cooper recommended that Council break the law by ignoring the OCP and Local Government Act and approving a 6-unit apartment complex on a tiny single family home lot on Thrift despite a packed house of residents opposing the plan! This plan will be voted on by City Council on Sept 29th. Be there!

Here is the direct quote from our Director of Planning Karen Cooper:
“Staff support the application to rezone the property located at 14937 Thrift Avenue to allow the construction of a six-unit concrete apartment building.” – K. Cooper, Director of High Rises and Densification, City of White Rock
Karen and Ross
This recommendation suggests that the 6-unit apartment building be permitted even though it violates the existing OCP density restrictions. That is nothing new, but to do so without an OCP amendment is illegal and sets a dangerous precedent which Council it not permitted to do under the Local Government Act.

Why is this important to you and your community?
By setting the precedent that the OCP is a “guideline”, it opens the door for greedy developers to build whatever they want where ever they want! That is not good for our community and it is not good for citizens. This will impact your home and its resale value. We heard from one unfortunate homeowner on Thrift who lost over $40000 on the sale of their home thanks to excessive density and development by a developer next door (and received offers as low as $100k below assessed value!).

Building High Density is a Win for Developers/Politicians and a Lose for Citizens
Developers have everything to gain and nothing to lose when they build high density in our community. And our Mayor and City Councillors who are supported by these developers win as well. It’s the residents of White Rock that lose with uncontrolled excessive development! We lose with property values, increased taxes, increased crime, increased traffic, increased school over-crowding, and increased hospital wait times. Our small town community feel is under attack by greedy developers and by the politicians that the developer support.

That’s not right!
The role of the OCP is to protect homeowners rights and their investment!
Instead, the OCP is used by Developers to do whatever they want are your expense!

The City’s Argument:
If we look at the average density in this single family area of town, the existing developments have not used up their full density quota, so we can add the unused density to this lot.

The City’s Argument is Illegal and Invalid
This argument is not only illegal and unjust to surrounding home owners, the city’s math is incorrect and misleading. Even if “averaging” was legal, and its not, the city based their argument on a selection of lots in the area that were cherry picked for their low density development, but conveniently left out high density planned development such as the Cressey 12-Story Mega-Condo currently planned for Vidal street just a few lots away. If one took the Cressey Mega-Condo into account, the average is WAY too high.

Good try White Rock.
Please stick to the OCP and only approve legal developments.

You have seen what happened on Bishop’s Road and how developers built a condo with the balconies so close to neighbors that condo owners could watch as

Ross wrote a great article summarizing the details, which is available at the White Rock Sun “In My Opinion” column. Here is an excerpt below:

The minute the Director of Planning recommended that the project be approved by council despite the serious violations of both the OCP and the Local Government Act is the moment that this issue became much more than simply how many units are allowed. Staff and Council’s dogged insistence to shove this down the throat of the Citizens of White has elevated this to a question of Moral Compass. Do we want our community to be imposed on us by the wishes of developers and speculators from elsewhere who council members take money from or do we want to keep White Rock a great place to live and protect those qualities that have made it a place that is envied by others. To sacrifice all that we have for the greed of the developers and this council would be a sad end to what may well be the best place to live in Canada.

Double bonus points to all of the folks who filled the new council chambers to overflowing. It was wonderful to see the standing room only kind of opposition that is looking council in the eye and saying STOP! Lots of great speakers on Monday night opposing this project and this precedence. Wish I had everyone’s names but some that really stood out for me were Dennis Lypka, Hazel Stack, Garry Wolgemuth, Aroon Shaw and Scott Kristjanson.

The final decision on this proposal has been delayed until September 29. Come early to get a good seat so you can watch your council determine the future of White Rock. Will they be overcome by greed and approve this illegal project that will establish a nasty precedence that will automatically bump the allowable density levels by 20% and destroy White Rock or will they do the right thing for the Citizens of White Rock?

See you on The Beach.
Ross

See the rest of Ross’ article in the White Rock Sun by clicking here

Want Lower Taxes? We need Fiscal Responsibilty, Not Densification!

Some people argue that increasing density is a good thing for White Rock and that adding more people will lower our taxes. White Rock has been increasing its density for over a decade now. Forget the spin. Let’s look at data to see how densification has failed to lower your taxes!
White Rock Taxes vs Similar BC Cities

Here’s a graph that compares White Rock’s taxes to similar BC Cities. Notice how our taxes are WAY higher!

Check out Pitt Meadows for example. White Rock has about the same population as Pitt Meadows, but the average taxes paid by homeowners in White Rock is DOUBLE what residents in Pitt Meadows pay! White Rock density is TWICE the density of Surrey. Are our taxes lower? Not at all! Our taxes are about 50% higher than Surrey.

So what does the data tell us?
Taxes are high because City Hall wastes millions of dollars not because we need more density!
Listen to Data, Not Political spin!

Remember that on November 15th when you vote.
Vote for sound financial management and lower taxes, Not higher density!

White Rock Finally takes Action to Measure Impact of Coal Trains on Air Quality on our Waterfront

White Rock has at last started to measure the impact of Coal Trains on our air quality.
Why does it take the city so long to take positive action?

The Mayor and Council are able to change the OCP in the blink of an eye, but they sure drag their feet when it comes to doing something positive for the community!

Here is a picture of the Mobile Air Monitoring Unit (MAMU) courtesy of the Save The West Beach Boat Launch Facebook page.

Mobile Air Monitoring Unit  located just East of the Boat launch

Mobile Air Monitoring Unit located just East of the Boat launch

Delta performed a similar study last year and found significant air pollution from the monitoring station located near the tracks. In addition, Washington State University professor Dr. Jaffe released a detailed assessment of health risks associated with living near coal trains. You can read more about that study here.

So while we wait for this latest study from the White Rock Waterfront, what do we already know about pollution from all these passing coal trains? Lots!

We already know how much coal dust gets put into our air and ocean using BNSF’s own data. This new study will just confirm it. Here is the data: 2100 pounds of coal dust flies off of the train and into our lungs and our sea and onto our homes every day.

Here’s the math:
Each car loses about 500 pounds on its 1100 mile journey from Wyoming to the coast (this is data that BNSF provides). Now let’s do the math. If we lose 500 pounds of coal (by weight) every 1100 miles, then that means that each loaded coal car releases about half a pound of coal dust per mile.

There are about 120 cars per train, and we expect at least 10 coal trains per day. That works out to 600 pounds of coal dust released per mile per day, which is 100 tons of coal dust released into the air per mile each year.

A trip around the Semiahmoo Peninsula is about 11 miles, so over 1000 tons of coal dust will land on the peninsula each year from the coal trains.

For White Rock alone with about 4 miles of track, we can expect about 2100 pounds of Coal Dust deposited on Our City by the Sea every day. That works our to be about 400 tons per year coating our streets and homes and lungs. That’s not good for tourism, its not good for business, and it certainly is not good for our health.

Winter is Coming. And so is the November Civic Election!

I am in favor of moving the trains. This is vital for our health and to avoid potential disasters with derailments. Unfortunately, I am not sure that I can trust Mayor Baldwin to do anything about it.
Trains_Safe

The recent fiasco with the fences and the boat launch tell me City Hall is not on the right track. On Monday, I asked Mayor Baldwin if they could re-instate the access tunnels to the beach under the tracks. These tunnels used to be there and got filled in. It was an cheap and easy solution to our beach access problems.

The Mayor’s response to my question: He said it could not be done. But then he lied to me about why they cannot re-instate the under-track tunnel access to the beach.

When I asked him on Monday’s council meeting to re-instate the tunnels, Mayor Baldwin claimed that it was no longer feasible because of “Rising Ocean Levels”.

Being a researcher, I did the research. It wasn’t hard. Ocean levels ARE rising… but only 3mm/year. Mayor Baldwin was making an excuse on why they could not implement this easy and cheap fix. And this excuse is a very bad one. It is insulting that he does not think the public is smart enough to check.

Sea levels are rising at a rate of 1 foot every 100 years

Sea levels are rising at a rate of 1 foot every 100 years

He claimed that due to raising sea levels, the tunnels could no longer be built. However, this is nonsense. The tides are so much more significant that global rises in sea levels. And we have lived with these tides in White Rock for over 100 years! If we built the tunnels today, it would take another 100 years before sea levels when up ONE foot, and 1000 years before the tunnel would be unusable at low tide (when it would be used by the public). I could live with any improvements that would last ONLY 1000 years! If only they would starting MAKING improvements with our tax dollars.

Of course, Mayor Baldwin might not of lied. He may have really believed what he was saying about rising tides. Being wrong is not the same thing as telling a lie. If Mayor Baldwin truly did not know what he was saying was blatantly wrong, do we really want a Mayor who does not check his facts and makes decisions based on the kind of headlines one might read in the National Enquirer? Residents of our little city by the sea deserve better. Much better.

I found it interesting that his “5-year-plan” would cover both Mayor Baldwin’s current term and next. So if nothing happens in that time, he can still milk it for getting elected in the next term. Meanwhile, we have fences and mesh and no access to West Beach. If you know how to work Ottawa, things can move very fast indeed. Just ask BNSF.

Winter is Coming! And so is the Election. Vote smart.

Read the Peace Arch News article here