Part of a rendering of the Lady Alexandra building proposed for 1310 Johnston Rd. and given a development permit in September of 2018. A council move to down-zone the property would prevent the development and lead to a costly legal battle, proponents warned Monday, while opponents urged council to stick to their guns in reducing city building heights. (File photo)

Decisions could be close for White Rock’s lower Johnston Road

Wednesday council meeting may determine future of 1300-block

A decision on contentious OCP and zoning amendments proposed for the 1300-block of Johnston Road could be close.

Two lengthy public hearings Monday night – both of them concerning the future of the block – have led White Rock council to call a special public meeting Wednesday at 5 p.m. in council chambers, to clear up unfinished business from Monday’s regular council agenda.

Included in that, is consideration of third and final readings for the controversial amendments.

Council is contemplating both a change to the height transition guidelines for the block – from 10 to 12 storeys to four to six storeys – and a specific downzoning of 1310 Johnston Rd. (site of the proposed Lady Alexandra building) that would lower allowable height to six storeys from the current 12 storeys, and also modify allowable density.

At Monday’s meeting, proponents for the development argued that a six-storey limit would make the planned building – granted a development permit last year but stalled by the newly-elected council at the building permit stage – impossible and lead to a costly legal challenge. Opponents, however, urged council to stick to campaign promises to limit highrise development in the city.

Questioned by council members, planning and development services director Carl Johannsen confirmed that new plans for the Lady Alexandra building discussed by proponents are not part of the amendment decision. For a new plan for the building to be considered, he said, current zoning would have to remain and a new development permit application would have to be made.

According to Monday’s agenda, while the bylaws may be presented for third and final readings, consideration of both could also be deferred for consideration until the next regular meeting (scheduled for April 8).

A finance and audit committee meeting to consider and take questions and comments from the public on the city’s financial plan is also scheduled for Wednesday, to begin at 6 p.m.

Chief administrative officer Dan Bottrill suggested that any leftover regular council business could also be continued after the conclusion of the finance meeting.

For those unable to attend the meeting, live-streamed and recorded video will be available at www.whiterockcity.ca/streaming

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