So why does White Rock City Council keep Approving Mega-Condos when Occupancy Rates are so high?

Wonder why Mayor Baldwin and the Condo-Coalition are approving so many White Rock Mega-Condos even though vacancy rates have doubled since Mayor Baldwin took office in 2011? These projects are approved by Council with little public debate, and ignore strong opposition from the majority of residents. Why?

It is clearly NOT about saving trees as Mayor Baldwin claimed last December when Council approved the Elegant Twin 21 and 24 floor Mega-Condos on Oxford street. After last year’s Hump Clear-Cut for votes and the planned destruction of trees on Johnston Street, it is easy to see that trees are not this Council’s priority.

Approving Condos is all about making huge money for developers and speculators and their friends. Many offshore investors are flipping the same property several times before the building is even complete, creating huge profit for themselves and their friends, with no intention of ever living in the Condos themselves, all of which is pushing up prices beyond the reach for locals.

In White Rock, the Newport development on Marine and Oxford was apparently “sold out” a few months ago, but the on-site realtors are still showing display suites and now there are several MLS listings for suites in the development. However, the building is not even finished yet.
New Port at Oxford and Marine

Read the full article in the Vancouver Sun here, then decide for yourself why Mayor Baldwin and the Condo-Coalition have just approved 5 new Mega-Condos in White Rock in the last two weeks alone. It’s not about building a better community, it is a Ponzi scheme that’s destroying our community.

Here are some highlights from the article…

The presale market is the “wild west” of the industry, says realtor Steve Saretsky, who posted a blog post recently, titled “Vancouver Pre Sale Condo Ponzi Scheme.” Mr. Saretsky says it’s common that offshore investors get first dibs on presale purchases. Those purchases are assigned, or flipped, to local buyers at a premium. He says in recent months, as the condo market has hit a fever pitch, so too has the flipping.

Speculative buying is driving prices up, shutting out owner-occupiers and adding to an already unaffordable market. He sees buildings that completed long ago remain half empty. Many of the units appear on Craigslist or the Multiple Listing Service once the building is complete, a sign that buyers have already maximized the gains to be had.

“Obviously they presold them offshore,” says Mr. Saretsky. “They bought them three years ago, made a lot of money, and they don’t have any intention of living in them.

“If you call one of the developers, they say, ‘we are only selling to friends and family and we are open to the public next week.’ But what is friends and family? What is the definition? It’s basically offshore. And everybody in the industry knows it, and nobody likes to talk about it.”

Read Kerry Gold’s Globe and Mail article “Vancouver’s presale condo market reaches fever pitch” for more details.

bc-presales0421re01

 

 

Campaign Contributions in White Rock

Ever wonder where the Mayor and Councillors get their Campaign Contributions from?

The information is available from the BC Elections website: http://www.elections.bc.ca/index.php/local-elections-campaign-financing/

In the 2014 White Rock Election Campaign, the Mayor and all White Rock Coalition Candidates received significant campaign contributions from Developers, whose developments were later approved by Council. Many people in White Rock have commented that this gives the appearance of Conflict of Interest.

can-we-get-them-any-closer-to-single-family-homes

Want to find out who donated to each winning candidate? Click here.

The Lack of Vision in City Hall

White Rock’s City Council’s lack of vision is truly disappointing. The City has purchased a house on Vidal Street with your tax dollars in order to create a few more parking spots near the beach at the cost $1.4 million  of your tax dollars.

13529whiterock1156VidalStreet

Is this really the best idea that our Mayor and City Council can come up with? Do they have Real-Estate on the brain? There are better alternatives if only they would divert their attention away from Real-Estate and start listening to new ideas from White Rock Citizens.

We need leaders who see beyond Real-Estate and short term solutions.

I think a far better idea would be to partner with White Rock Elementary and the Surrey School district to create a parkade on their school grounds. This would inject needed cash into the school, level out their playing fields, and provide hundreds of new parking spaces near five-corners while also providing a needed revenue stream for both the school and White Rock, and also supporting local businesses.

We could tap into Federal Development Funds and get much of this paid for by the government in support of local economic growth.

Imagine several levels of underground parking under the school grounds, with their existing soccer fields placed on top of the parkade, making the soccer fields level with the rest of the school grounds. Our kids get better facilities, the school has a revenue stream, White Rock City Hall makes money, and local businesses pull in more customers.

Everybody wins.

To connect with the waterfront and those local businesses as well, a vernicular could be built from five-corners down to the promenade for about the same cost as this house on Vidal that City Hall just purchased.

Let’s elect leaders with long term vision that improves our community, not leaders who choose to clearcut our forests, berate citizens who offer alternatives, and who pave over our city with High Rise towers in the name of Densification and Greed.

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?

Who is being abusive at City Hall?

Mayor Baldwin calls Councillor Father’s suggestion “Ludicrous” when she suggests that the new rules regarding abusive and disrespectful behaviour at City Council Meetings should apply to everyone, including the Mayor. Such comments by the Mayor are abusive and disrespectful, and Mayor Baldwin proves Helen’s point in doing so. Leaders hold themselves to a higher standard, Bullies believe rules apply to other people.

9582whiterockwrcouncil012516-ms

City of White Rock targets ‘abusive’ residents

Read the Peace Arch News article here. In this article, Mayor Baldwin claims that when he called himself “the Boss”, it was someone asked “Who is the Boss here?”. That makes it sound very reasonable, but that’s not what happened. Then later in the same article, Mayor Baldwin called it an Urban Myth that he ever said those words. He said those words, but he didn’t. Quite the feat to be able to contradict yourself in the same article Mayor Baldwin. But what actually happened?

I was at the Feb 25th 2013 Public Hearing on the proposed development of the White Rock Muffler site when Mayor Baldwin said those words “I am the Boss”. But the way Mayor Baldwin describes the context of how this happened in this article is pure fiction.

Mayor Baldwin made this comment during the Public Hearing on the White Rock Muffler development proposal that over 100 residents came to voice their opposition to. As I recall it, several residents were told (improperly) by Mayor Baldwin that they could not get up to speak again. At a public meeting, Mayor and Council are mandated by law to listen and not interfere or limit the public from speaking. The public is allowed by law to speak as many times as they want. But Mayor Baldwin got quite rude and told people to be quiet. When residents got upset and asked why they would not be allowed to speak, Mayor Baldwin said “Because I am the Boss”.

(You can read more about it here in the Peace Arch News:
http://www.peacearchnews.com/opinion/letters/199000761.html
and http://www.peacearchnews.com/news/197882941.html )

My original post following the public hearing back in 2013 is here. At the time of the public meeting, I was still a Mayor Baldwin supporter but was shocked at his behaviour and at how this proposed development was passed, when all but two residents spoke against the development.

I was a Baldwin supporter at the time, but not after this Public Meeting. His behavior and bullying of the public was a disgrace in my opinion. I have chaired many meetings in my career, including the Nov 10th 2014 all-candidates meeting, and had never even heard of a chair of a public meeting saying anything so offensive and so bullying before that day. Mayor Baldwin is many things, but he is not a good Mayor.

A Mayor has to have good people skills and be willing to listen to views that disagree with his own. That is how we gather the best ideas and create the best White Rock we can. In this article, when Mayor Baldwin calls Helen Father’s comment “ludicrous” because she dared to suggest that rules of etiquette should apply to everyone in the room, including the chair, Baldwin is showing his true colors indeed.

Major Baldwin is open to all ideas, so long as they agree with his own. And apparently Major Baldwin is open to imposing draconian anti-democratic rules on everyone, provided those rules do not apply to him. Well played Mr. Baldwin.

The only “abusive” behavior going on in White Rock appears to be the abuse of power at City Hall and the Destruction of Local Democracy in the name of Densification, Development, and Greed.

At least that’s my opinion. What’s yours?

 

The use of Chloramine and the Potential for Damage to Aquatic Life

LCWS_Logo
White Rock City Hall
15322 Buena Vista Ave,
White Rock, BC V4B 1Y6
January 5, 2016

Mayor: Wayne Baldwin and Council

Re: The use of Chloramine and the Potential for Damage to Aquatic Life

As you may know, on October 17, 1989 and July 9, 1990 there occurred two breaks in Surrey water mains that dumped chloramine-laced water into the Fergus Creek, which is a sub catchment of the Little Campbell River (LCR). The extreme damage to fish and benthic invertebrates officially took almost a decade for recovery but we know some damage was permanent. In fact it is only with huge recent investments by the City of Surrey, the Department of Highways and local volunteer organizations that Fergus Creek is what it is today. Some White Rock storm water flows into the LCR, some of it via Fergus Creek.

These events were a huge wake-up call. It was because of the above-mentioned spills that the Greater Vancouver Regional District followed up on this disaster by conducting extensive public consultation and then deciding on Chlorine over Chloramine for the entire Lower Mainland. Our members have seen government at all levels deal with scheduled and unscheduled pollution and have witnessed many types of failure. We recently watched the aftermath of an accident-damaged fuel tank on a truck that had poured hundreds of gallons of diesel directly into the main stem of the Little Campbell River. Firefighters and Ministry of Environment responders showed themselves hopelessly ill prepared for such an accident with inadequate oil absorption supplies. Nobody wants these kinds of disasters to fish bearing streams and while diesel fuel is toxic, some of it will evaporate but chloramine will not.

An issue unique to White Rock is the non-point pollution aspect of chloramine. It’s common knowledge that many of the strata units in White Rock contain dedicated car washes within their concrete parkades. All water from this type of activity plus power washing of parkade slabs goes directly to the ocean through storm drains. On top of that, on-street car washing, pressure washing and a portion of the at home and strata irrigation garden watering is sent directly by storm drains to the Semiahmoo Bay. Then there are city owned automatic sprinklers especially along the waterfront that suffer breakages from time to time.
Based on many years of combined watershed experience we know that very little of the water involved in the cleaning of water mains, accidental breakage of water mains, and admittedly the rare event of firefighting will ever be effectively treated to neutralize the chloramine in the water. It is a fact that chloramine run-off from water hydrants or broken mains that enter storm drains, streams, and rivers, endangers the lives of fish, amphibians, water invertebrates, and other sensitive marine animals.

There is a significant amount of evidence that identifies “vacated” and “dead” zones in marine areas adjacent to inhabited areas that use chloramine. Of course people will say that’s correlation not causation, as no one will underwrite the necessary science. The data gaps are still huge, but the people that know those areas still know what they know and chloramine is suspect.

Chloramine, which is an extremely persistent compound, is a dangerous substance in water and has been locally proven to destroy fish and benthic organisms in rivers and streams and has the potential to destroy sea life close to the ocean outfalls in Semiahmoo Bay.

The Semiahmoo First Nations once relied on the abundance of sea life in Semiahmoo Bay but over the years point and non-point pollution reduced the tens of thousands of fish available to them to just a few hundred. The abundant clams and other molluscs, which were once available all year around, were polluted too. Even the crab fishing has been diminished and here we have the City of White Rock wanting to pollute the ocean with another toxic pollutant.

The Canadian EPA ruled chloramine “toxic” as defined in Section 64 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, as a result of a study assessing the impact of chloraminated water discharges entering the environment, particularly on fish.

Research states that chloramine must be filtered out before it reaches bodies of water. Does White Rock really have a tested, comprehensive plan to do this and will there be a surcharge for Chloramine contaminated sewage being sent to the wastewater treatment plants in Metro before being dumped into the Gulf of Georgia?

Will you be engaging and consulting in a comprehensive review on this issue of Chloramine in the drinking water like the GVRD in the early 1990’s?

Please know that we are completely opposed to chloramine being used in White Rock water and will advocate in every possible venue against it.

There was a time when the citizens of White Rock were proud and boasted of their pure drinking water and people from miles around would come and drink the water and remark on how wonderful and different the water tasted right from the tap. It was not unusual for visitors to take jugs of water home. We understand there is a complex and changing regulatory environment. We also believe that introducing chloramine into this once pristine water supply has the potential for causing many unintended consequences.

Respectfully,
Phillip Milligan
President
Little Campbell Watershed Society
1284-184th Street, Surrey, BC V3Z 9R9

c.c. Rebecca Reid, Regional Director, Fisheries Management, DFO
c.c. Bruce Reid, Regional Oceans Manager, DFO
c.c. City of Surrey Dept. of Environment and Drainage
c.c. Semiahmoo First Nation
c.c. Drayton Harbor Shellfish Protection District
c.c. Friends of Semiahmoo Bay
c.c. Surrey Environmental Partners

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.

Foreign Investment and the OCP

The latest data shows that 70% of all Single Family Homes in Vancouver are now being sold to offshore buyers from Mainland China as a way to park their money in our safe economy, thus turning our communities into a speculative stock market where our children can no longer afford to buy a single family home in their own hometown.

Charlie Kiers - the Chinese Buyers Connection

There is nothing wrong with diversity or immigrants choosing to move here. Canada has a long history of supporting new Canadians. However, this is about foreigners using our housing market as an investment to launder their money in our real-estate markets. Foreign buyers often pay way more than asking price in order to make a quick deal, with some individuals paying Canadian “smurfs” a 3% commission to help them illegally get their money out of China. Houses often stay empty and neglected, destroying our community with each new foreign real-estate purchase, and making the dream of a single family home unobtainable to most Canadians living in Vancouver. That’s not right.

Think this is an exaggeration? Check out this article on the exclusive PLS real-estate website targeted to wealthy Asians looking to invest in Canadian Real-Estate. Think there are other factors? Millionaire MigrantsNot according to UBC Geography Professor Dr. Ley who proved, in his book Millionaire Migrants, that there is a near 100% correlation to our housing prices and Foreign Real-Estate investment. He found that all domestic factors such as interest rates and local incomes have no significant affect on driving up prices at all.

Australia has taken action to curb this abuse. Meanwhile in White Rock, the role of the Official Community Plan (OCP) is to protect communities and value of citizen’s homes. The OCP Working Group responsible for reviewing the OCP is made up of ten individuals: Seven of which are either directly involved in the real-estate industry or are friends of someone on Council, or both. Hardly the kind of Community Representation that one might hope for!

What do you think?

Time for Action!

Frustrated by Mayor Baldwin and the Condo Coalition making decisions in secret in-camera meetings? Want to talk to a City Councillor who will listen to citizens? Join Councillors Dave Chesney and Helen Fathers on the first Saturday of each month at 10am at the White Rock Public Library.
November 7th 2015A good positive talk today about how we need to take back control of our Little City by the Sea, and start to foster that small town arts community that we all moved here for! The Mayor and Council only play lip-service to the arts while they focus on more towers and more density. We need to stop waiting for City Council to act, and make positive change ourselves. Contact Dave if you would like to get involved.

Some citizens talked afterward about the need to replace Mayor Baldwin and the Condo-Coalition with more City Council members like Helen Fathers and Dave Chesney who listen to citizens and want to improve our city for the benefit of all, not just help their developer friends make more profit.

While we could wait until 2018 for the next election, some people feel that the Mayor and Council are ignoring their Fiduciary responsibility to White Rock Citizens and that White Rock citizens should take City Council to court now. If you would like to take action now, let us know. If enough citizens are concerned and willing to donate time or money, who knows what positive change we can achieve?

Mayor Baldwin: It’s Time to Appologize to the Citizens of White Rock!

Mayor Baldwin: You were wrong to call in RCMP into Council Chambers to initimidae seniors, and you were wrong about the Regional Growth Strategy legally obligating White Rock to grow. It is time to apologize!

First he threatens to call the RCMP to take Margaret Woods away when he does not get his apology for unspecified “offensive language” which did not happen, then he intimidates the seniors in the room by calling into Council Chambers armed uniformed and plainclothes RCMP Constables on five separate occasions so far this year alone.

Mayor Baldwin, Margaret Woods, and the RCMP face off over concerns about trees during a Sept 28th Public Hearing

Mayor Baldwin, Margaret Woods, and the RCMP face off at Sept 28th Public Hearing

Second, the Mayor misrepresented the facts about the Regional Growth Strategy, and when his own witnesses corrected him, he tried unsuccessfully to lead his own witnesses.

Metro Vancouver City Planners correct the Mayor about the Regional Growth Strategy. They make it clear that it is JUST a guideline, and that the OCP is the LAW!

Metro Vancouver City Planners correct the Mayor about the Regional Growth Strategy. They make it clear that it is JUST a guideline, and that the OCP is the LAW!

Now the Mayor claims that it is the Residents of White Rock that are misrepresenting the facts! See today’s Peace Arch News: Mayor Baldwin Rejects Petition Asking for his Resignation.

Sorry Mr. Baldwin but we just do not believe you. Yours is an infantile and vacuous argument, a story full of sound and fury, signifying Nothing. To first bully upstanding senior women followed-up by insulting residents is both juvenile and wrong.

Your behaviour is reminiscent of the School yard Bully: Having beating up a couple of kids in the playground, when the bully gets caught by the principal he claims that all those kids with the bloody noses are the real liars, even as the bully himself wipes the blood from his fists. Voters expect more from their Mayor.
Be a Buddy Not a Bully Mayor BaldwinEnough with the insults and unsupported claims, please present your 5-page “Legal Opinion” for all to see if it exists. How can anyone believe you when you have yet to present any supporting evidence to any of your claims, and even your own witnesses contradict you? Don’t be that Bully who lies to the principal, be the Mayor we all know you can be. White Rock deserves that.

The Mayor’s response? “I have absolutely no reason to resign”

For the Mayor to state this as the Accused, Judge, and Jury can only be described as a conflict of interest and makes a mockery of democracy in White Rock. Proper procedure would dictate that the Mayor step out of the room while the Deputy Mayor and City Council vote on whether the Petition asking for his resignation has any merit or not.

Mayor Baldwin rejects Petition asking for his Resignation stating: Absolutely No Reason to Resign. Some residents clearly disagree.

Mayor Baldwin rejects Petition asking for his Resignation stating: Absolutely No Reason to Resign. Some residents clearly disagree.

The Mayor says that the petition, which asks for the Mayor’s resignation over the Mayor’s statements that the Regional Growth Strategy legally obligates White Rock to grow by 7000 residents, “has no basis in fact”. Strange because the Fact is that this Petition is based on the Mayor’s own words.

Now the Mayor states in the Oct 7th Peace Arch News story that the RGS is only a guideline, contradicting his earlier statements, yet he insists that his previous statement that the RGS is legally binding is also the truth. The RGS cannot be both a simple guideline and legally binding at the same time. It’s not that complicated!

Was the Mayor correct to reject the petition calling for his resignation? Or should he have stepped out to let the rest of the Council decide? What do you think?