Walking White Rock streets now a danger, senior says

I spoke to many seniors today who have complained about how they have found it so difficult to walk along Johnston through all the construction. Three seniors have described how they have fallen and hurt themselves on the gravel.

Meanwhile, there are those who support Mayor Baldwin and his Condo-Coalition’s destruction of our city who claim that all this development is about making our sidewalks safer and that I am over-reacting.

Johnston Road Dangerous

It is laughable to say that this construction was about fixing the unsafe sidewalks. This is about greed, and having White Rock residents pay for that greed. The sidewalks were safer before the construction and there was only a small stretch that needed repair. Two seniors have already reported being injured in falls here during the construction.

If this was about safety, why did they rip up both sides of Johnston at once instead of leaving one side usable by seniors at all times? This is about rushing to get the development done before this council is voted out on Oct 20th. To get it done, they are doing it all at once so developers get what they need for their towers before we can prevent it.

If this was about sidewalk safety, there was only about 30 feet of unsafe sidewalk on the East side by the old Penguin Meats location. That could have been fixed at a fraction of the cost while also keeping seniors safe. This is about building water and sewer capacity for the new towers that the majority of White Rock residents opposed.

This project is costing tax payers $9M but the developers are only paying half the cost. Tax payers are paying the other half. We get only $500k per tower in development fees. In order to pay for it, we would need 18 towers along this three block stretch of Johnston. The first block is costing tax payers $3M and with three towers being planned here, developers are only paying half: $1.5M. That’s not right.

Mayor Baldwin’s response to Ms.Egger after walking the street himself?
” I will send a message to staff about dealing with it ASAP”.
Who then goes on to blame other councils, even through Baldwin was CAO at the time and was credited for getting Bosa pushed through council in 2005.

That’s not good enough Mayor Baldwin!
Good management accepts responsibility and would have planned for safe development from the start, not think about it as an after thought after people get hurt and go to the media.

A good Mayor would never have allowed both sides of the street to be torn up at the same time, and a good Mayor would have honored their fiduciary responsibility to White Rock residents, and not approved these towers that the majority of residents oppose now, and opposed in 2005.

This Council is to blame, and this Mayor and his Council must take responsibility for it.

Click on the picture above to read this Peace Arch News article and it is clear that safety for seniors is not a priority. Shame on Council! #VoteSmart on Oct 20th.

Johnston Road Destruction - June 14th 2018

Federal Politics – Reject Fear and Vote based on Track Record

If you care about White Rock Densification or too many Coal Trains ruining our Waterfront, then think carefully about who you vote for Federally. Federal Politics affects White Rock now more than ever. After years of neglect, White Rock and South Surrey deserves to have better representation in Ottawa. Vote Smart. Voting matters.

The recent flyer by Conservative Candidate Dianne Watts is a case-study in creating fear in an effort to get votes. We know that Harper has no shame, but Dianne Watts should have known better to try and defend this assault on our collective intelligence.
White Rock Conservation Politics of FearDianne was a great Mayor for Surrey in many ways, but her track record shows that she is definitely pro-development and pro-high-density. Surrey has seen a huge increase in crime and shootings due to its growing pain launched during Dianne Watt’s years as Mayor and continues with her apprentice Linda Hepner. We do not need more of the same here in White Rock and South Surrey. And make no mistake, Conservatives look to the West Coast as a place to invest in the real-estate market, making money for themselves while driving up prices and density for citizens who live here.

A vote for Watts is a vote for Harper. Changes made by the Harper Government to promote Fossil Fuels helped push more and more Coal Trains past our beach. The Harper conservatives created Port Metro Vancouver and PMV is run by political appointees who answer to no one, giving White Rock no say in how many Coal Trains blast by our little town each day. Before PMV was created, the port was run by a board that included locally elected representatives from all affected cities. Before PMV was formed, the Ports listened to citizens and acted on our behalf.

Reject Fear. More Canadians are killed by Moose each year than by terrorists. Perhaps if Canada stuck to Peace Keeping Roles rather than bombing raids in Syria, we might not have to worry about Jihadists in our bedrooms. And all that money spent on bombs and fighter jets and the $800M spent on Conservative PR could instead be spent on Veterans, Hospitals, Policing, Schools, Pensioners, Highways, Bridges, Rapid Transit and of course Refugees like little Alan Kurdi whose family applied for refugee status in Canada and were rejected.

I also cannot recommend voting Liberal if you want to keep White Rock from growing too fast. While Joy Davies was an excellent Liberal Candidate who listened to resident’s concerns about excessive growth, the Higginbotham family is well known in White Rock for advocating for developers and more density. We do not need an MP who will advocate for even more densification in White Rock.

Federally, MPs have done nothing to monitor and control foreign real-estate investment nor enforce laws against international money laundering schemes. UBC Professor Dr. Ley has shown that the Foreign Millionaires buying real-estate in BC is the key factor causing Vancouver’s spiraling housing costs and current housing crisis with a near 100% correlation. We need an intelligent MP who understands that Federal Policies and Enforcement of International Law affects us all, including White Rock.

Who you vote for Federally will make a huge difference to White Rock this year. In this Federal Election, after years of neglect by Conservative MP Russ Hiebert, it is time that conservative White Rock realize that the Conservative Party is no longer conservative at all, but instead a Harper Party-of-One focused on Fear and Fossil Fuels. We can do better.

As much as I admire Dianne Watts in her stance against the South Surrey Casino, as highlighted in the NoCasinoSurrey website and No Casino in South Surrey Facebook page, Dianne Watts, like Hiebert before her, will have little say in a Harper government. Her recent flyer, apparently produced in Ottawa without her consent, proves that to be true.

Read the excellent follow up Editorial about this by Peace Arch News Editor Lance Peverley. Makes good entertaining reading!
White Rock Politics

Personally, I plan to vote Green. I think Elizabeth May is an intelligent articulate leader with a strong moral compass and unimpeachable integrity.

Many respect May’s leadership but feel that their vote will be lost in White Rock by voting Green. If you feel this way, I recommend voting for NDP Candidate Pixie Hobby. While Mulclair’s leadership has been less than stellar by supporting invasive bills based on fear such as C-51 which allows the government to spy on Canadians without limit or court orders.

I believe NDP Candidate Pixie Hobby is a strong and honest candidate with integrity and the best interests of White Rock residents as her focus. Mr. Hobby would make an excellent MP for representing the needs of White Rock and South Surrey in my opinion. In her statement regarding Dianne Watts’ Flyer of Fear, Ms. Hobby made it clear that instead of warmongering, she would focus on local issues such as fighting crime and adding more police to makes us all safer. That makes more sense to me than having Diane Watts help Mr. Harper keep our bedrooms safe.

A Small Victory – Texor has withdrawn their Mega-Condo Tower Development Proposal

It was announced at last night’s White Rock council meeting that TEXOR has pulled their development application for a 15 storey high rise on 16th avenue at Nichol Street in White Rock. Check out the White Rock Sun for a recap by Councillor Dave Chesney.

Texor 15 Story Proposal

 

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
http://www.peacearchnews.com/news/327744311.html
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.

Myth #1: Increased Density means Lower Taxes

It is a myth that Increased Density lowers taxes. It does not.
Read why Increased Density actually increases your taxes below!

White Rock has twice the density of Surrey, yet our taxes are 50% higher. We have compared our taxes to other similar sized cities in BC in the chart, and we are THE highest by a large margin. Why?

Let’s look at why Densification increases Taxes.

It costs the city the same amount whether a person lives in a 400sqft apartment or a $5 Million dollar home. The cost of city services, policing, fire, garbage collection, and other city services are all about the same on average.

But you hear that the Towers bring in millions of Dollars in Tax Revenue!
Isn’t that good?

It sounds good until you look at the numbers in more detail!

Do people in high density housing actually pay their share?

For starters, when a developer builds a tower. White Rock has been known to offer them three years of tax exemption. That means regular tax payers like you and other residents are subsidizing the big developers!

It may be even worse! The White Rock Rate Payer’s association claimed that the city sold Bosa the land way below fair market value, and then White Rock gave them a $3.5M low interest mortgage as well. The Rate Payer’s Association had planned to sue the city to stop the sale of the land, but could not afford the court costs. Thousands of residents signed petitions opposing these towers, but White Rock City Hall approved the towers over these objections and the towers were built anyway. If what the Rate Payer’s Association said is true, then residents of White Rock are not saving money with towers, but instead residents are subsidizing developers in order to have the towers built. This would explain why developers are so eager to support pro-development Candidates! Let’s hope the Rate Payer’s Association was wrong!


With City Hall holding so many closed-door meetings about developments, how can we tell that this does not happen with every new tower being built in this city? Ouch.

Next, let’s look at what a typical Bosa resident pays in taxes versus a typical home owner. We looked up the tax records for a number of apartments of various sizes. The average taxes paid by a household in Bosa is $2,664 per household.

How does this compare to other residents? What does the AVERAGE household pay in taxes each year in White Rock? On average, White Rock residents pay $3,700 per household.

So Bosa residents pay about $1036 less taxes on average but benefit the same amount from city services. So who pays the difference? The average White Rock resident.

White Rock residents are subsidizing High Rise Towers, not benefitting by them.
So who benefits?
The developers who build towers, and the politicians whose campaign they pay for.

What can we do about it?
The lesson here is that towers do not help pay their way. We have to elect leaders who realize that the economics need to make sense. One solution, if we insist that we want towers, is that the Condo only pays for itself if the taxes of each Condo exceeds the average house listing price in the City. Only then would the taxes paid by Condo owners be supportive of our tax base. The Late Councillor Larry Robinson, a real-estate agent himself, often noted in council that we need to push for larger condo units to attract high end buyers. Then at least the economics make sense. But this does not help the typical family afford a single family home. It hurts. Is that what we want for a long term future? A city of glass towers filled with the ultra rich? I do not think so.

Is there an alternative for lower taxes and affordable housing?
Yes, there are many places in the world where a family can own their own single family home on their own lot. There is also lots of research that tells us that Canada, and yes even White Rock, can get there. The first step is to elect good leaders with intelligence and the willingness to listen to good ideas. Together with developers, businesses, and residents we can solve this. The next step is to put a stop to this madness called Densification. It does not work and this has been known since the 1970’s with the Harlem Tower Projects.

Mayor Wayne Baldwin likes to quote Former City Planner Larry Beasley who talks about city centers needing 10,000 people for a vibrant community. However, that was over ten years ago. More recently Larry Beasley has recognized that there are significant downfalls including that this pushes out existing residents who can no longer afford to live in their own communities. Is that what we want?

Are the developer’s to blame? No, it’s their job to look for the best deal possible.
White Rock City Council is to blame. They listen to developers and ignore concerns raised by residents.
That’s not right!

High Density is not the only reason that your taxes are too high!
Increased Density does not reduce taxes in this town, but that alone would not mean higher taxes if our tax dollars were managed wisely. The bigger reason that taxes are too high is because White Rick spends too much money on things that provides residents with no added benefit.

Here are recent examples of how City Hall is wasting your money!
– $528k paid out to replace perfectly good windows in City Hall and Library
– $273k to replace existing parking meters with new parking meters
– $100k paid to renovate council chambers for a move that never happened
– $360k paid to renovate current council chambers and city hall
– Senior Staff paid 26% more than similar jobs in larger cities like Victoria
– Councillors gave themselves 11% pay raises starting in 2015
– The Mayor gets a 32% raise starting in 2014
– Offering developers incentives to build here including three years of tax relief!
– Giving EPCOR $12 Million Windfall when EPCOR Land Rezoned
– The City Councillors receive $400 for each meeting attended

Years of Baldwin Densification Has Increased Our Taxes

Ask a lot of questions of your candidates before you vote!
Do the candidates have intelligent solutions? Do the understand the economics?
Or do they simply want power to help the big developer’s get rich?

You decide, then Vote on November 15th. Your vote matters!

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