March 9, 2019 12:30 am
Updated: March 9, 2019 2:27 am

Battle erupts over highrises in White Rock

WATCH: A battle has erupted in White Rock over two 12-storeys tower that were approved by the previous city council, but put on hold by the new council. John Hua explains.

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The developers behind two proposed 12-storey towers in White Rock, B.C., say those projects are being unfairly blocked by the city’s new council.

After a lengthy permitting process, the two projects on Johnston Road — the Solterra and Lady Alexandra — were approved by the former council in 2017 and 2018.

Developers say the City of White Rock is now acting in bad faith by reviewing the official community plan for the area, which would decrease the height limit of future buildings from 12 storeys to between four and six storeys.

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“Changing the rules during a rezoning process is one thing — and it has its own implications — but changing the rules after the zoning is in place, the development permit is in place, that’s lightyears more significant and a much bigger deal,” city planning consultant Brent Toderian said.

“If this happens, I think it will have a ripple effect well beyond White Rock.”

The developer of the Lady Alexandra, GSR Capital Group, could have avoided all of this if it had gotten a building permit, but the company says it delayed the process to redesign the building in order to reflect public input. By doing so, the company says the city is now using that loophole to act in bad faith.

However, White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker says the city is “within the structure of the law and within a structure of provincial legislation that allows us to make decisions like this. We’re not breaking any covenants. If they had building permits in place already, we would not necessarily have made these changes.”

Walker argues that council was given a clear mandate after the recent election to increase community input about how the city is developed.

“Space and height doesn’t necessarily create density,” he added.

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“For the most part, people told us that they didn’t believe that they had been heard in past public meetings,” Walker said.

He went on to say residents will have their say at a public hearing scheduled for Monday.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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