Eight Months after the May 2015 Hump Clear Cut and Nothing has Changed but the Excuses

After over 8 months since the Hump Clear Cut for Votes began, and still nothing has been done to restore the hump. The promised beautification project has left an ugly neglected sterile open wound in its wake, with fresh new mini-landslides frequently noted after each large rainfall. With no vegetation, this slope will be unstable and is a blight on a once beautiful sea-side promenade.

The Hump Continues to be undevelopedEight Months after the Hump Clear Cut and nothing has changed but the excuses.

The reasons that the city gave for the hump clear-cut are laughable fiction. They claimed it was to stabilize the hump, but Transport Canada told White Rock’s Mayor in 2007 that trees are NEEDED for slope stability (I have a copy of the report). So that excuse is a lie and contradicts what the expert at Transport Canada said.

Then we are told that the trees had to be removed to inspect the retaining walls. Since when do we need to clear-cut trees located 1/4 mile away from retaining walls to inspect them? As can be clearly seen in this picture, the retaining walls are solid and did not need this clear-cut to inspect them. Another failed attempt by City Council to justify their actions.

So then, we are told that the trees were rotten and too small to help stabilize the slope. Another lie. I took pictures of these stumps, and the trees were very healthy, many were 50-70 years old, and most were over a foot in diameter (many were three feet in diameter). The City’s own bylaws state that trees over one foot in diameter are protected, and another bylaw specifically states that the trees on the hump are to be PRESERVED.

Marine Drive Clearcut

It appears that the Mayor Baldwin and the Condo-Coalition made elections promises to those living on the hump that the hump would be clear-cut. That is according to those on Facebook who thanked City Council for being politicians who actually delivered on what they “promised” during the election. Strange how this never appeared as a promise on their election brochures, which instead said that they would preserve White Rock’s unique charm and character. I never thought of White Rock’s “charm” being a cleared cut hump devoid of trees or more High-rise Towers in single family neighbourhoods. More spin and lies.

Experts agree that a healthy city requires a tree canopy of 40%. By one estimate, White Rock’s tree Canopy is now only 2% and falling. Two Mature trees create enough Oxygen for a family of four, 2 square meters of pavement create none.
Our City of Clearcut Trees

Moral of the story: Don’t listen to political spin by politicians who are motivated by greedy developers and who will say anything to get your vote and their campaign contributions, look instead to a candidate’s track record.

Sadly, while Mayor Baldwin used to talk about moving the tracks, all his actions do is move his own track record deeper into the mud, along with much of the soil washed down from the now barren hump.

When it comes to the Hump Clear Cut, Mayor Baldwin’s and Councillor’s Meyer’s track record appears to be one of lies and spin and false promises, at least that’s my opinion. What’s yours?

Elegant’s 24 and 21 Twin Towers on Oxford Approved by Mayor Baldwin and Council

Great turn out at tonight’s public meeting on the Elegant Twin Tower proposal for Oxford and Thrift: 73 Presenters, about 200+ in attendence, 346 written submissions, with 98% of written submissions by White Rock residents opposed, yet the development was approved by Mayor Baldwin (who had claimed earlier that he opposed it on Nov 23rd) and the Condo-Coalition, with Helen Fathers and David Chesney voting against. Final vote: 5 voted to approve, 2 against.

The City worked past its usual curfew of 1030 PM until just before Midnight letting people speak at the Public Hearing in order to vote on the development tonight, without taking the time to read and understand the written and spoken submissions by White Rock Residents. Then Mayor and Council reconvened their Special Council Meeting at midnight, Grant Meyer made a motion to put Bylaw 2123 (the OCP Amendment) to a vote and it was seconded by Bill Lawrence.  Then the Mayor and Coalition voted in favour with Chesney and Fathers opposed.

Then they started to discuss Bylaw 2056, the Rezoning bylaw. Helen Fathers made a motion to put the vote off to December 14 which was seconded by Dave Chesney. This motion was defeated 5-2 by the Mayor and the Coalition.

The Mayor and Coalition then voted to approve Bylaw 2056 which they did 5-2. There are a few nuts and bolts to thinker with on the Rezoning Bylaw but the Elegant deal is done as matters currently stand.

Elegant's The Oxford - Approved Dec7th


The general consensus of the public: The Owners of the Property, the Developers, and their Friends and Family, and Real-Estate Agents all spoke very highly of this project.

The general public spoke also spoke favourably about the design, but questioned the location as being outside the OCP zone, breaking several of Mayor Baldwin’s election promises, and being located too close to the White Rock’s Water Wells and the associated Chlorine Plant.

Citizens begged Council to not approve it at this location. Reasons included possible risk of contamination of our water supply as the building will be about 30 feet from our wells as opposed to the recommended 100 to 200 feet, the likely destruction of the protect trees and the Heron’s nesting site there, risk to the new residents from Chlorine Gas poisoning from the Chlorination Plant located only 20 feet away, plus the location violates the OCP and adds to the already congested Thrift and Oxford traffic problem.

After receiving 346 written submissions and hearing from 73 presenters, the Mayor and Council immediately voted to approve third reading of the project, clearly without any consideration of input presented by the Public, nor with insufficient time to review any of the submissions which were received by 4pm that day. Nice.

Plenty of excellent speakers, but strangely it was not recorded. Why wasn’t this Public Hearing Recorded? All the others have been. Why not this one? Strange.

White Rock’s frequent In-Camera Council Meetings illegal according to Legal Expert

White Rock’s frequent In-Camera Council Meetings illegal according to Legal Expert Raymond Young who announced this at this week’s UBCM Conference.

Vision Councillor Raymond Louie surprized

At this week’s annual meeting of the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), Lawyer Raymond Young, founder of one of B.C.’s best-known firms specializing in municipal law, stated very clearly that “If Mayor and Council are meeting before each council meeting and they’ve got the agenda out two or three days before the council meeting and they know what the issues will be … all of that is a council meeting, and it is an unlawful meeting,” he said, especially if they decide who will make a motion, second a motion and lead in discussion.

That sounds exactly like what happens in White Rock prior to every public City Council meeting. Mayor Baldwin has consistently held more private in-camera City Council meetings than public ones this year, thus breaking his 2014 election promise of more open and transparent local government.

Are such frequent in-camera meetings illegal? According to Municipal Law Legal Expert Raymond Young who spoke to City Council Members from across BC, including Councillor Helen Fathers who attended the UBMC conference, the answer is YES!

Holding in-camera meetings before each Council Meeting is not legal.
At least that is my interpretation of Raymond Young’s speech. Perhaps I am wrong.

Mayor Baldwin makes a habit of telling citizens that he has a legal opinion that supports his various claims, yet he has never produced a written copy of any such legal opinion, despite many requests from White Rock Citizens to do so. Strange.

Perhaps Mayor Baldwin should listen to Lawyer Raymond Young’s legal opinion and stop holding In-Camera City Council meetings? At least Mr.Young’s legal opinion is both well documented and well respected, and also publicly available for all to see.

I challenge Mayor Baldwin and City Council to seek out a formal legal opinion by Raymond Young on the legality of the regular In-Camera meetings held prior to each Council Meeting. This should include reviewing the secret in-camera minutes to access if the stated reasons for secrecy apply or not, and publicly presenting his legal opinion for all of White Rock to See.

Read the details in the Vancouver Sun article here and decide for yourself.

White Rock – A City in turmoil as Citizens Call for Mayor Baldwin to Resign

White Rock council was greeted by a crowd of over 100 protestors yesterday requesting that “BALDWIN RESIGN NOW”, over comments Mayor Baldwin made in the Peace Arch News falsely stating that White Rock was legally obligated by the Regional Growth Strategy to absorb 7,000 new residents in the coming years. This statement was proven false in the Peace Arch New which quoted numerous sources including the Regional Growth Strategy itself.

Baldwin refused to back down from his unsupported and false claims, and instead lashed out at Councillor Helen Fathers for pointing out that the growth targets are non-binding goals.
Crowd of Protestors Calling for Baldwin to Resign Now

Read about the Protest and City Council Meeting in the Peace Arch News
Peace Arch News Photo - Residents Rally for Baldwin to Resign - Melissa Smalley Photo

METRO VANCOUVER reps were on hand during Monday’s Council meeting to bring some clarity to the community on request of Mayor Baldwin and Council. Try as Mayor Baldwin might to lead the witnesses, the MV Reps repeatedly made it clear that the Regional Growth Strategy is NOT legally binding, but is instead just a potential forecast and is subject to change as dictated and controlled by each municipality itself. They went on to say that each municipality sets their own growth targets and that it is the OCP that is legally binding, not the Regional Growth Strategy.

Allan Neilson, Metro Vancouver’s general manager of planning, policy and environment, and Elisa Campbell, Metro Vancouver’s director of regional planning, surprised Mayor Baldwin and Council by saying RGS is just a goal, the OCP is the Law, and they have revised White Rock Growth forecasts down from 7000 to 3400 additional residents by 2041

Allan Neilson, Metro Vancouver’s general manager of planning, policy and environment, and Elisa Campbell, Metro Vancouver’s director of regional planning, surprised Mayor Baldwin and Council by saying RGS is just a goal, the OCP is the Law, and they have revised White Rock Growth forecasts down from 7000 to 3400 additional residents by 2041

Kudo’s to the Metro Van Reps for not being bullied. In fact, they pointed out that the current growth target of 7000 was deemed to be too high by White Rock City Council, including Mayor Baldwin himself, who in 2013 requested that the target be reduced to more reasonable numbers. The RGS has now been amended to a lower goal of 3500 new White Rock residents by 2041 as requested by Mayor and Council themselves. This came as quite a surprise to City Planner Karen Cooper and Mayor Baldwin himself. Strange how the Mayor missed this fact even though he sits on the Metro Vancouver Board and would have been there for this decision!

During the City Council meeting, Mayor Baldwin angered many in the gallery by noting there was “a lot of lack of knowledge on the part of the public, because it’s something that’s very complicated.”. Several in the crowd shouted out in response to Baldwin’s remark, calling for the mayor to “respect your citizens.”

Soon after, a uniformed RCMP officer entered the Council Chambers and glared at the Citizens in the gallery in an apparent attempt to intimidate the crowd. Citizens were outraged and Ken Jones raised a motion of order, requesting that the RCMP Officer remove himself from Council Chambers. The RCMP Officer left, having served as an apparent warning to Citizens that Mayor Baldwin “is still the boss”… for now.

The Protest Group released a statement to the press calling for the resignation of Wayne Baldwin from his elected position of Mayor of White Rock, stating that through his actions, Wayne Baldwin has demonstrated that he does not have the best interests at heart for the overall good of the Community and they believe that he is no longer fit to serve the Public as Mayor.

You can read the full Press Release by clicking here.

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Residents visibly Upset at Excessively Dense 15-Story High Rise Proposed for White Rock Single-Family Area

I  attended the White Rock public information meeting yesterday held by Texor Homes who provided details about their massive 15-storey, 134-unit Condo-Tower being proposed for the Single-Family Area at the corner of North Bluff Road and Nichol Road.

Texor Proposed 15 Story Condo-Tower at North Bluff and Nichol

It is a fine development, but it entirely in the wrong place! In his 2014 Election Campaign, the Mayor promised to protect single-family areas and only develop in OCP-designated multi-family zones. This proposal along with the Vidal Street Cressey Development, and the multiple Towers being built along Oxford Street breaks his promises that Mayor Baldwin made to White Rock citizens.
Site for Proposed Developmen Cropped 2t

To be clear, let me say that I am not Anti-Development. What I am is Pro-Community, Pro-Official-Community-Plan, and Pro-Democracy. When City Council works with Citizens, Businesses, and Developers, then we all win. Unfortunately, that is not happening in White Rock with Mayor Baldwin and the Condo-Coalition in charge. Only Councillors Helen Fathers and Dave Chesney seem to care about what the public want and vote to support the community and residents.

OUR VIEW: White Rock council was elected to listen – that includes question period - The Now

OUR VIEW: White Rock council was elected to listen – that includes question period – The Now

There was a large Citizen turnout despite the fact that it was scheduled in the peak holiday travel time and over the dinner hour. Every resident that I talked to objected to the project. While three City Staff were paid to be there from the Planning Department, only councillors Dave Chesney and Helen Fathers attended. The Mayor did not bother to attend.
Eric Shaw of the White Rock Planning Dept explaining the Developers Show and Sell EventProponent sells the features of the towers and town house buffers planned; Green space between them - plant lots of treesChris McBeath from White Rock City Planning Dept talking to Concerned Residents

Many residents provided feedback to City Staff and Council and stated our opposition to the project. Voters are notably upset with White Rock being sold-off to the highest bidders for huge high-density developments that clearly violate the Official Community Plan. A person who grows up in White Rock, should be able to afford a single-family home in White Rock. Destroying Single-Family homes and replacing them with Condos is putting that dream of home ownership out of reach for most young White Rock families. That is not right.

With 134 units, this project will have an unprecedented density of 204 units/acre which is nearly 2.5 times the maximum density permitted anywhere in White Rock. This is extremely excessive and inappropriate for a single-family area. It is without precedent in White Rock and violates the election promise made by Mr. Wayne Baldwin during his 2014 election campaign to preserve Single Family Areas and confine growth to the designated Multi-family areas.

While we can be sure that Councillor Dave Chesney and Helen Fathers will vote against this development, how can Mayor Baldwin support such a project and justify breaking a key election promise to the voting public thus violating his Fiduciary Responsibility to the Citizens of White Rock to act on their behalf?

In my letter, I point out that this proposal violates several key election time promises made by Mr. Wayne Baldwin during the 2014 election. You can view his 2014 Election Promises in the image below. Click on the image for a larger version if this is too small for you to read.
Wayne Baldwin's 2014 Election Promises

Is this simply a case of a Politician saying one thing during an Election, and doing the opposite once elected? Many in White Rock, even former supporters of Mayor Baldwin such as myself, expected more from the Mayor than broken promises and clear cuts to improve views for friends.

Do you have a list of action by Mayor and Council that you feel broke an election promise? Post a comment telling us about it. White Rock Matters. It our home.

We are still waiting for Mayor Baldwin to fulfill his promise to listen to the public and, in his own words, demonstrate “Respect for the Public and Taxpayers” while “Ensuring Accountability and Common  Sense in Governance” and “Making White Rock the best place to live, work, and play”. Great words, now we need the actions of White Rock’s Mayor and City Council to match those words.

Perhaps the city should call this new kind of excessive developer-driven density zoning the new “Developer-Originated Obscenely Mega-Excessive Density” or DOOMED Zoning for short? For under such excessive density within an OCP-designated Single-Family  Area, the small town look and feel of Our City By the Sea is surely DOOMED!

Residents often like to say that Condo Towers are needed to help lower taxes. We have been told that densification will help our taxes, and we have been adding density to White Rock for over 30 years, but our taxes are among the highest of any similar sized city. We are twice as dense as Surrey, yet our property taxes are 50% higher and our business taxes are 300% higher than Surrey’s.

Years of Baldwin Densification Has Increased Our TaxesResidents have been told that we need to create towers by Developer-backed Politicians for so long that people actually start to believe it. While every household adds to the cost of running White Rock about the same, on average Condo owners pay far less than the majority of White Rock Citizens. Densification actually increases our taxes by placing more burden on existing home owners and high-end Strata-Owners. While it is a good thing that the rich should help pay to support those less fortunate, be clear that densification has driven up prices so that many cannot afford a single-family home in White Rock.

Still not convinced that White Rock does not need more density for sustainability? You should know that White Rock current has $45M sitting in the bank in reserves from Surplus taxes. Do they use this money to lower our taxes or improve infrastructure? No! Instead, they try hide the fact so that people will believe the lie that White Rock needs more residents. We simply do not! That only helps Developers make money while Citizens pay more and get less. That’s not right!

You can read my full letter to City Staff and Council here.

A Letter from Margaret Woods Regarding the Loss of Question Period in White Rock

Looks like Democracy in White Rock went the way of the Dodo Bird on December 1st, the day the new council was sworn in.

First, let’s talk about question period. During the term of Hardy Staub as Mayor and Wayne Baldwin, City Manager, Question Period was cancelled. The next council, under Judy Forster, reinstituted it under a commitment to openness and transparency. It continued during Catherine Ferguson’s mayoralty and into Baldwin’s first term when things started changing.

There was a time when the 15 minute Question Period was held prior to the council meeting and anyone could ask a question about any topic. Many people attended and asked many important questions, important to them anyway.

Then along came Mayor Baldwin who decided for some reason to move it to the end of the meeting. The result of this decision? the number of questioners dwindled. People having to get up early the next day to go to work, couldn’t hang around all night waiting for a meeting that might never end.

But there were still some hardy folks who took the change in stride and continued to ask important questions. So Mayor Baldwin decided that only questions relating to items on the agenda would be allowed.

The same hardy folks persisted and continued to ask important questions. Somewhere along the way, Mayor Baldwin decided that the public, watching council meetings on Shaw Cable, should not be allowed to see or hear these important questions, so Shaw Cable was instructed to shut down the cameras before Question Period could proceed.

In the last few months, White Rock has moved into the 21st century and now our council meetings are streamed so that the public can see their Councillors live and in action at council meetings.

Now you have to ask yourself, why is the Mayor shutting down Question Period? Maybe it’s because he doesn’t want the public to see that there are people out there who are asking important questions.

Mayor Baldwin stated that “there are three people, no more than that, who have ever made use of it”. This is one of his favourite things – making statements that he well knows are not true; just like all the supposed complaints about the Farmer’s Market.

Are you surprised that Councillor Sinclair thinks “it serves no purpose” and the Mayor says, “this does not seem to be of any value.”

Well, Mr. Mayor, the value to the people of White Rock, was the opportunity to remind all council that they are accountable to the people who elected them. But then, do they care what the people think? I wonder as I learn that plans for our city for the next 4 years were made at a 2-day meeting disguised as an introductory session for new Councillors.

How sad, that this council, at this early date in their term, have no compunction in breaking the law and demonstrating their contempt for the people they swore to serve to the best of their ability.
Margaret Woods
White Rock Resident and Former City Councillor

Actions speak louder than Campaign Promises!

Let’s save our Farmers Market. Remind the Mayor and White Rock City Council that the Farmer’s Market is part of White Rock’s Unique Character and it supports local businesses. It is also part of Bosa’s commitment to our community.

In 2007, the Bosa Towers were granted Bonus Height approval on condition that they provide space to benefit the community as a “social and recreational Hub” on site. But now the Mayor and Council has pushed back the Farmer’s Market set up time, and want to push the Farmer’s Market out entirely, eliminating some of that community benefit that was promised in return for the tower’s added height.

The concerns of thousands of residents were ignored when the towers were built, but one complaint from a Bosa resident and the Farmer’s Market is now being pushed out. Is this the “Respect for the Public” that Mayor Baldwin wrote about during his 2014 election campaign? Is this what he meant when he said that he believed in “Maintaining White Rock’s Unique Character”?

Sounds like a politician promising one thing, then doing the opposite.
Actions speak louder than political promises!

Click on the picture below to read the Peace Arch News story.

The White Rock Farmers' Market has been operating in Miramar Village Square since 2009

The White Rock Farmers’ Market has been operating in Miramar Village Square since 2009