My Commitment to Our Community

I have been in White Rock since 2010 because I believed that this White Rock would be a great small town community to raise my  family.  Since 2012, I have helped various community organizations by donating my time and energy to help community groups get the word out by creating websites, Facebook pages, and twitter accounts for them. As I learned more about the issues, I created my own community pages to help educate the public, and learn from them by reading their comments and answering their questions.

I have spoken at Council Meetings and Public Hearings dozens of times. I have reminded Council that their Fiduciary Duty is to act for the benefit of residents and local businesses, not out of town developers and certainly not themselves. I have raised concerns about approving new towers without sufficient infrastructure or public support. I have raised questions about water quality and how increased development is making housing less affordable and pushing long time residents out of their own city.

I have watched as the Mayor bullied residents, cut off their mic, called in the RCMP to intimidate residents for stating their opinions during public hearings, and I have watch this council approve developments where 98% of White Rock residents who spoke, including a former Mayor and a former councillor, all objected to the project.

I love White Rock, but it has changed far too much over the last four years. This change has not been positive, and it is driven entirely by greed. I worry that excess development is destroying our city, that need for better infrastructure is being ignored, that our water is unsafe to drink with excessive levels of arsenic, manganese, lead, and glyphosate.

I believe our  beautiful city is being mismanaged and exploited, having gone from virtually debt free four years ago to now being over $30M in debt. Clearly all this development, and all the taxpayer money that goes into subsidizing developers, is not helping to reduce our taxes, but are increasing them.

Something in White Rock stinks, and it is not just the water! By voting smart, we can elect a council that listens to residents, local businesses, and responsible developers to create a positive long term vision for White Rock that works for everyone, not just a few. With the right vision, White Rock has all the natural beauty to become BC’s next Carmel, Cannon Beach, and Steveston all rolled into one. Can we fix this? Together, YES WE CAN!

Here are some of the websites that I run, or that I support within our community.

NoMoreHighRisesInWhiteRock on Facebook since 2012

  • Providing the community updates on what our Mayor and City Council are doing, both the good and the bad, and calling out their lies when they do. This site is concerned with the excess development that is destroying our community, and driving out local businesses, and about the lack of clean safe drinking water in White Rock, and that we do not have enough water to fight a large fire.

White Rock Safe Water Alliance on Facebook and website since 2015

  • Providing the community with specific information about water quality issues in White Rock, and the health impacts of our water’s excessive levels of arsenic, manganese, lead, and gyphosate, much of which comes directly from our wells that draw from the Sunnyside Aquifer that is being contaminated by run-off from local blueberry farms (pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers) and natural occurring heavy metals. Fraser Health recommended in 2013 that White Rock stop using its wells, and connect up to Safe and Clean Metro Vancouver water. Mayor and Council instead decided to keep using our well water because it was a “cash cow”. Since then, water rates have doubled, and they have spent over $25M on water treatment that has yet to improve our water. Meanwhile there are six valves along North Bluff that connect us to Metro Vancouver water. We could have safe and clean drinking water today simply by turning on those six valves. Vote for Scott, and I will make that happen because providing safe and clean drinking water is a city’s job #1.

NoCasinoSurrey website and No Casino in South Surrey on Facebook since 2011

  • When I learned from Terry McNiece that there was a large Casino being planned for South Surrey, I volunteered to help the group NoCasinoSurrey by becoming their official Geek-in-Charge of all their social media including the website, facebook page, and twitter accounts. I volunteering over 300 hours of my time, to run their social media campaign. Being a University PhD student at the time, I lent my research skills to the group, and combined with three other brilliant members of the group, we created a 47 page report to council on the effects of gambling on society, on personal health, and on the local economy. We presented our findings to Surrey Mayor Diane Watts in 2013, and to our delight we successfully convinced Council to reject the proposed casino.
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Monday’s City Council Meeting – Kudo’s to Some, Not so much for others

A very successful council meeting on Monday! The Community held a fantastic Rally of over 100 citizens who made it clear that “We are the Boss” and want our City by the Sea back under Citizen Control. The Peace Arch News article by Mesilla Smalley was excellent but held back a few punches too.Peace Arch News Photo - Residents Rally for Baldwin to Resign - Melissa Smalley Photo

The Metro Vancouver Planning Managers confirmed (several times) that White Rock controls its own grown targets through the OCP, which they emphasized IS the Law, while the Regional Growth Strategy is JUST a guideline. They also reduced the growth forecast for White Rock from 7000 to 3500. Kudo’s to Councillor Helen Fathers for seeking clarification and getting it very clearly stated from the Metro Van reps. No Kudo’s to Mayor Baldwin who tried to lead the witness and get them to say that the RGS was legally binding, which the Metro Van team made clear that it was not.

Kudo’s to City Planning Manager Karen Cooper who confirmed that given the new numbers, all required growth can and should occur in the designated city center high density zone specified by the OCP. Councillor Grant Meyer and Lynne Sinclair asked for clarification in an attempt to justify further future developments in various single family areas outside of the downtown core. No kudo’s to them, but kudo’s to Councillor Bill Lawrence and Megan McKnight who remained silent and appeared to fully accept the new direction. Let’s hope their votes reflect that in the future!

CAO Dan Bottrill confirmed that Councillor Dave Chesney was improperly censured earlier this year based on the Respectful Workplace Policy 405, which at the time did not apply to apply to City Council members, and thus could not be used to justify a Censure. Congrats and Kudo’s to Councillor Chesney for clarifying this important point with Mr. Bottrill and the City.

And great news that Texor has withdrawn their application to build a 15 story Mega-Condo at the Corner of North Bluff and Nichol. This might not be the last that we have heard of this development, but we applaud Texor for taking the concerns of residents seriously and withdrawing their application for now.

And finally, a warm welcome to our new RCMP Constable who attended the City Council meeting on Council’s request. He is new to White Rock and we appreciate his support and protection. While the constable appeared to enter council chambers on queue when Baldwin publicly insulted residents, kudo’s to the constable for quickly leaving Council Chambers when requested to do so by the general public.

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
Margaret Woods
White Rock Resident and Former City Councillor