The White Birch proposal for a six-storey rental-only building for 1485 Fir St. (Contributed rendering)

The White Birch proposal for a six-storey rental-only building for 1485 Fir St. (Contributed rendering)

Majority voice support for 80-unit rental redevelopment in White Rock

Resident fearful of being priced out of the city, council told at public hearing

The majority of residents who spoke at a City of White Rock public hearing Monday evening (Jan. 18) did so to voice their support of the 80-unit, six-storey rental building proposed for 1485 Fir St., replacing an aging three-storey rental building.

However, one of the existing building’s residents, who spoke against the redevelopment, shared her fear of being priced out of White Rock.

“I’m quite scared right now,” Peggy Best told council during a virtual public hearing for the property, which is currently home to a 24-unit rental building, built in 1965.

Best said, with the salary she earns, her rent is affordable at less than $1,000 per month. However, she’s worried about finding a new place to live that’s within her budget once she’s asked to leave the property.

“If I have to move, I’m not going to be able to afford anything in White Rock,” she said. “I’m very stressed out by this move.”

The developer of the property, Mahdi Heidari, who purchased it in October 2018, has put forward a compensation and relocation package for existing tenants of the building.

The package is to cover the cost of moving, offer additional compensation for tenants impacted by the development, reduce rental rates for those who wish to return to the new building, and provide tenants three housing options – either in White Rock or within a five-kilometre radius – that are comparable.

During the public hearing, Best, who has lived in the building for three years, was told that if the redevelopment were to go through, she would receive approximately $9,000 compensation from the developer. She was also told that if she wanted to move back into the apartment once it’s complete, she would receive a monthly discount of 23 per cent below market rate.

RELATED: White Rock 80-unit rental-only project goes to public hearing

“So if market rate is $1,500, I’m looking at around $1,300, which I definitely can’t afford,” Best said.

She told council she may be left with no option but to quit her job, leave the city and move in with her parents, who live out of town.

“I don’t have anywhere to go. I’m wondering what my options are and it’s scary.”

Best was one of four people opposed to the project, while eight people spoke in support. As of Jan. 18, the city has received 59 submissions from the public.

Of those submissions, 33 people were in support of the redevelopment, 20 were against and the remainder were general comments on the project.

Existing building residents who spoke in favour of the project spoke highly of not only the proposed structure and its amenities, but of how Heidari is treating current residents and the compensation he’s offering.

Not only were a number of residents of the current building in support of it being redeveloped, so were others who don’t live in the city.

Ian Middleton said his parents are planning to retire in White Rock next year, and they’ve been searching for a rental building.

He said after his parents move to White Rock, Middleton and his family intend to follow.

“They need elevators, need up-to-date amenities, parking, and they just want to feel safe and secure,” Middleton told council. “Part of the reason I want to move is I want to be close to them. I’ve always lived close to them and they’re getting older now.”

Middleton noted that he has two young children, and he wants to live in a building that is clean, safe, and “not 50 years old.”

“Unfortunately, White Rock doesn’t seem to have that available for rental units. Yes, (White Rock) has 20-storey concrete buildings for sale, condos for sale, but we don’t know if we want to spend that sort of money right now. It seems there’s no middle ground,” Middleton said.

The encouragement to increase the rental stock in the city was echoed by a several speakers who were in support of the project.

RELATED: White Rock council increases compensation for displaced tenants

Heidari said rental buildings in White Rock tend to be older and lack many of the amenities often found in condominium buildings, such as ample storage and secure parking.

“I believe it’s not fair for someone who’s looking to rent something in White Rock that has good amenities.

“The only option for them, right now, is to rent a condo unit because right now most of the older buildings don’t have those type of amenities. And to rent condo units, as we all know, the costs are quite high,” Heidari said at the meeting.

Heidari was questioned by Coun. Anthony Manning regarding the safety of relocating tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Heidari said that if they receive all the necessary approvals, he doesn’t expect the project to move to demolition until mid-summer. He noted that health officials have been optimistic that 60 to 70 per cent of the population could be vaccinated by that time.

“If, by any chance, COVID cases jumped up and things were out of control and it was not advised for tenants to be relocated, we can decide at that time to give more time to tenants,” Heidari said.

The property is subject to new protections granted to tenants by the city late last year.

At its Oct. 19 regular meeting, council voted unanimously to support the recommendation from its land use and planning committee which relates directly to tenant relocation and what’s expected of developers.

The intention of Council Policy 514 and Council Policy 511 was to trade-off amenity contributions required of rental-building developers for higher density, in exchange for increased compensation for displaced tenants.

Under the new policy, tenants are to receive four months’ rent for those with less than one year’s residence, increasing in two-month increments for each year (29 months’ rent for tenants with 15 years of residence, for example).

Compensation can reach a maximum of 44 months’ rent for tenants who have been in their building 30 years or longer.



aaron.hinks@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

City of White Rockdevelopmentrental market

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey RCMP are investigating a reported assault at Panorama Ridge Secondary. (Shane MacKichan photos)
UPDATE: Two youths arrested after assault with a weapon at Panorama Ridge Secondary in Surrey

School placed on a ‘hold and secure’ until safety of all students confirmed

Image Surrey.ca
Surrey to pony up one-third of cost to cover Cloverdale lacrosse box in 2022

This will be at the Cloverdale Athletic Park at 64th Avenue and 168th Street

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Delta Mayor George Harvie. (Submitted photo)
Mayor asks Fraser Health to reconcider North Delta vaccination site

Harvie wants a North Delta clinic to complement the South Delta location

B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Murder conviction upheld in case where Surrey mom was stabbed in front of her kids

Jury in 2017 found Tanpreet Kaur Athwal, aka Sonia Kaur Gill, guilty of first-degree murder in 2007 death of Amanpreet Bahia, 33

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on October 27, 2020. The City of Vancouver says it has purchased a former hotel at a major thoroughfare that can house about 65 units to accommodate homeless people. A joint news release by the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and city says 2075 Kingsway, Days Inn by Wyndham Vancouver, will be ready for accommodation this November. The Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen also announced a $51.5 million Rapid Housing Initiative for Vancouver that is expected to create 135 new affordable homes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Former Vancouver hotel to be converted to 65 units for homeless people by the fall

The former Days Inn on Kingsway will be ready to house people in November

Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

Most Read