My View regarding the Issues that face White Rock…
Development is out of control! City Council has approved 15 towers in the last year and our city is a disaster. Local businesses are being pushed out and dozens have failed, yet this Council continues to approve more towers with no thought about improving infrastructure like water, roads, and sidewalks.
Our water contains health impacting levels of arsenic, manganese, lead, and glyphosate, that you cannot simply filter this stuff away with a standard home filter. White Rock residents deserve safe and clean drinking water. Dr, Lanphear from SFU spoke of the health impacts of these heavy metals in our drinking water. Besides the links to cancer associated with these heavy metals, they also impair cognitive function in babies of up to 10 IQ point reduction, and some research suggests there may also be a link to autism.
In 2013, Fraser Health recommended that White Rock move away from well water, and switch to Metro Vancouver Water. White Rock Council rejected that health recommendation because they wanted to turn the wells into a cash cow. This Council chose profit over health! That’s not right!
We need to revamp the waterfront area, and promote the arts as a second industry. Every election year, the White Rock Coalition talk about moving the trains, then they do nothing. These councillors have been running things for over seven years with no action. Let’s vote them out, and vote in a Council that will do more than just talk about it!
We need to ensure families can afford to buy their own single family home!
House prices are a result of supply and demand. We create excess demand by allowing developers to increased density and build towers. We also create more demand for our homes by giving investors permits to tear down perfectly good homes and built a monster home or multiple higher density homes in their place. These make it attractive to developers to buy up older homes, taking them out of the market forever.
It sounds like home owners benefit from these inflated prices, but that is part of the spin developers want you to think. Your home because worthless when they only want it for the lot. That leaves neighborhoods full of run down homes since home owners have no incentive to fix up a home that will be a tear-down when it is sold.
The end result is our neighborhoods become run down, our homes loose their value, and single family homes are needlessly destroyed.
We need to stop destroying our single family homes! If we stop this madness, people wanting to build monster homes or towers will go elsewhere. Our homes will become valued again as homes, not just place holders to Building Lots. Residents can take pride in their homes once again and our children can afford to buy a single family home in our little city by the sea. And without more towers, we may just restore our small town feel that attracted us to live here in the first place.
We need City Council to focus on community, not increased population density!
The main issue for me is City Council’s focus on increasing population density. Densification increases taxes and makes a single family home unaffordable for first time home buyers. It does not need to be this way. But the politician’s, and the developers who finance them, want you to believe that it is true. Do not believe the hype, believe the facts. That fact is that increased density increases taxes. White Rock is twice as dense as Surrey, but our taxes are 50% higher despite years of growth. Check out how White Rock taxes compares to other similar BC cities, and then read where how your tax dollars are really being wasted!
Towers block out the sun and our beautiful ocean views. We want to perserve our city by the sea so that locals and Surrey residents want to stroll our streets and shop here, then stay for dinner and an evening of theater or visit an art gallery. Densification hurts business. We already have four towers, yet business is moving out of White Rock and many of the ones that remain are left run-down. Towers have not helped, they have hurt us. We already have long wait times at the hospital, congestion on our highways, increasing crime, and wait-lists to get our kids into the school program that we want. Increasing population without consideration of these issues is not responsible and it is bad government. And it’s been going on for years. Enough!
Here are my thoughts on some specific issues that people have asked about:
- Development in the town centre – you need to see my website for the full details of my vision at www.scott4whiterock.wordpress.com/high-rises for the details. The short summary is that I think building towers is a short term band-aid that fixes nothing. Our towers have done nothing but make developers rich while are taxes remain high and shops close. I think the model for town centre should be based on places like GranvilleIsland and Morgan Crossing where they pull in customers from all over by providing great shops, great restaurants, great art galleries, and great theatre. We can do that here, but with every tower we have less real-estate to do it with. Wayne Baldwin thinks we need to increase population. That makes no sense. What we need to do is improve what our community offers in terms of better experience (both in town center and at the beach) so that all those people in Surrey and in Blaine will come here, spend some time and some dollars, and leave happy wanting to return. The taxes from prosperous business will help pay for our city, and we will not need to rely so much on taxing residents. This has worked for many cities with far less to offer than White Rock. And let’s bring back the Sand Castle competition and bring back the crowds and the tourist dollars. And let’s make sure we offer enough great shops and services and fun things to do that people want to stay.
- Trains – Mayor Baldwin makes a lot of promises but all we get are fences and more train horns at night. I have read the orders by Transport Canada and there are other options to get rid of the trains such as posting crossing guards or putting up controlled gates. Mayor Baldwin says he plans to get the trains moved within 5 years, but there is no plan. When to fail to plan, you plan to fail. I worked in Ottawa for 25 years. The people in Ottawa want to do good work and help communities. You just need to know how to communicate with them. Mr.Baldwin’s statement of “do not expect much from Transport Canada” is not how to get things done. It is arrogant and rude. We need leaders who will work with Ottawa for a win-win that gets the trains moved to the benefit of all. It can be done.
- High Property Taxes – Densification increases taxes. So does wasting money. Mayor Baldwin voted himself a 35% raise for next year, and council voted themselves over a 10% raise. That is a slap in the face to all hard working residents. When it comes to density, we have twice the density of Surrey, but our taxes are 50% higher. That makes no sense. Check out how White Rock compares to other similar BC cities by clicking here.
- High Business Taxes – Our Businesses have the right to be outraged by the high business taxes. They are triple what Surrey charges! No wonder businesses are moving across North Bluff into Surrey. They are not getting value for dollar. We need to encourage businesses to come to White Rock, and we need to help those already here become more profitable. That means businesses thrive and we all benefit by having more selection and better stores. Business only accounts for 5% of total tax revenue. Cutting their taxes would have little impact to White Rock taxes, but would be a huge benefit to local business and for the future. The current tax policies are making White Rock city Center a ghost town of run down stores and shops. Let’s encourage business, not tax them out of town.
- Trees – People should be able to trim their trees on their property to the height that they were when they bought the house but cutting down century old trees is hurts everyone. It destroys habitat. Trees muffle train noises and block out lights from all those new towers. I do not think people should be cutting any trees whose trunk is greater than 1 foot in diameter without getting agreement from neighbors, confirmation that it will not cause erosion to the hillside, and that they should have to plant three new trees somewhere in White Rock to make up for the loss. In the case of mature trees, if the tree was there before you moved there, then it should be there when you leave for future generations. If a developer cuts down trees, we need more than slap-on-the-wrist fines. Developers in my neighborhood have cut down over a dozen huge trees this summer alone. We used to live in a quiet home with very good privacy protection from these trees. With the trees gone? The result: train noise has tripled and the lights from the nearby hospital now burn bright through our windows each night like a thousand burning suns.
- Parking on the beach – I think a parkade should be built and I am ok with charging for parking in a parkade, but all the other parking fees in this city should be eliminated. It is killing business and tourism. We make $2 Million in parking fees and fines, but it costs $1.1M to run it. The net profit is $900K. To replace that money through taxes works out to about $80 per household. I already pay that in parking stickers. I think we should dump the parking fees and understand that the small increase in taxes that occur will result in a more prosperous and enjoyable city for everyone, including business. Good businesses can make a city a joy for visitors and locals alike. Boarded up empty storefronts are depressing. We have a lot of those right now. Enough.
- Beach transportation – I love the idea of building a funicular. They have one in Quebec City and everyone loves it. It is a great tourist attraction and really useful if you have kids or are a senior.
There are those who say we need all these towers to survive as a city. I do not agree. But even if that they are right, who here would want to still live in a city full of skyscrapers and crime like Whalley? We do not need population, we need to take advantage of the huge populations that already exist to the North and South of us and pull those people back into our city to support local businesses. The tax dollars generated through improved business will pay for this.
And we need to get money from through the Federal Western Diversification fund to help build White Rock into a great city, not just enough to repair a pier. Did you know that White Rock recently got a $115k grant from the federal government to repair the peer.That is great news but what a lack of vision! Do you know that prior to that announcement; our MP Mr. Russ Hiebert had just left another nearby community where he had announced a $50 Million grant! With a proper vision, properly expressed, we could be getting those big grants as well, and be making something of this city. Instead, we rejoice in getting just enough to repair what little we have. We need people with bigger visions for the future.
- Development outside the town centre – All this focus on development and tearing down older houses to build multiple family dwellings is another short sighted vision by people with no plan and no vision. The assumption that higher population density will bring prosperity has been shown by history to not work. It is like playing a ponzi game with our city, ever expanding the tax base to cover up bad planning and a lack of ideas, with politicians hoping that the ponzi scheme does not collapse on their watch. The federal government has been playing this game for years, and we are paying for it now. And now White Rock city hall wants to do the same.
- Ryan the homeless guy –It would be nice to have someplace where the homeless could get off the street for a while and take a shower and have a warm cot at night, and a bit of healthy food. Something like a small youth hostel might work. And it might bring in tourists from other countries looking for a cheap place to stay.
- Spirit of the sea festival – Yes, let’s have more of that! I used to love to come to White Rock for the Sandcastle competition. We need to bring that back, and provide more services at the beach to make people want to come back time and again. Let’s be honest, the water here is cold. We need other things to do like volleyball courts, mini-golf, and water parks, and let’s build some small shops right on the peer beyond the breakwater so people could buy a coffee or eat some fish and chips bought right on the peer, and sit down and enjoy. I think we are missing an opportunity here to rival Steveston by extending that peer and providing a place for fisherman to sell the catch of the day, and a place to rent a kayak or go whale watching right off an extended peer.
- Business and marine activity south of Marine Drive. – My vision is to use what worked in Steveston Wharf here. We have more to offer than they do: a better beach and a longer wharf, but we have no one with vision in charge of making it happen. When I was a kid, we used to explore all the vacant homes in the ghost-town that was Steveston. They worked on improving the community bit by bit and year by year. Now 30 years later, someone with a vision created someplace special that I visit with my family multiple times a year. They have no towers, and they do not need any thank-you very much. We could be doing that here. But we have to invest. White Rock recently got a $115k grant from the federal government to repair the peer. That is great but what a lack of vision! Do you know that prior to that announcement; our MP Mr. Hiebert had just left another community where he announced a $50M grant! With a proper vision, properly expressed, we could be getting these big grants and making something of this city. Instead, we rejoice in getting just enough to repair what little we have. We need to think bigger in terms of ideas, not population!
- Lowering taxes – My vision is to stop focusing on an unsustainable plan of ever increasing population density, and instead focus on building a beautiful destination spot where people from the surrounding highly populated communities can come to spend their time and money and help us grow, just like what happens at Steveston Wharf and Morgon Crossing, and Granville Island, and Whistler Village. With booming businesses, those owners will be making more money and pay for the privilege through their taxes. As these businesses prosper, so will their tax contribution, and that will lower taxes for everybody. A win-win for everybody, the community benefits, business benefits, even developers benefit.
Every journey starts with the first step, and every great plan starts with a vision.
Vote on October 20th for the vision that you want for your future in White Rock.
Here are the people that I think deserve our vote…
Scott Kristjanson (Me), Chris
Fiona MacDermid, Helen Fathers, Dave Chesney