Smart City, Smart Growth

A plan to revitalize, rediscover and reconnect White Rock

We’re running for Council on a “Smart City, Smart Growth” platform designed to ensure that White Rock’s government and growth reflect the needs and values of all residents and businesses, now and in the future.

We're running for Council on a "Smart City, Smart Growth" platform designed to ensure that White Rock's government and growth reflect the needs and values of all residents and businesses, now and in the future.

Smart City

Smart Growth

We pledge to create a cooperative, productive workplace, that delivers efficient, cost-effective services and programs to residents and businesses. 

We pledge to create a vibrant, liveable city that puts a premium on sustainable growth, more diverse, affordable housing, an enabling environment for business, and a thriving community.

What is a Smart City?

A smart city is one that operates in the best interests of its citizens.  

This means listening to people and finding sustainable, cost-effective solutions to challenging issues. It requires cooperative, productive partnerships among people who work for the common good in such key areas as planning, spending, taxation, public programs, services and the environment.

What is a Smart Growth?

A smart growth strategy places people front and centre in decisions about growth. 

It recognizes that successful, sustainable growth is measured in the ability of all people to find the right home, to create successful local businesses,  and to enjoy a good quality of life in their neighbourhoods and community. 

Our platform is Smart City, Smart Growth. Smart City expresses our commitment to creating a cooperative, productive city hall that delivers cost-effectives services and programs to residents and businesses. In order to create a smart city, we commit to the following actions:

√Financial audit to assess adherence to sound financial management practices
√Performance review to optimize human resources management
√Operational review to improve services delivery and infrastructure maintenance and upgrades
√Asset and infrastructure review to optimize expenditures on maintenance and upgrades
√Process and procedure review to improve rezoning, permitting, and licensing
√Reduce reliance on property taxes by diversifying income streams
√Modernize city hall to increase transparency, accessibility, and accountability
√Increase citizen engagement, empowerment, and volunteering

Smart Growth is our pledge to create a vibrant, livable city that puts a premium on sustainable growth, more diverse, affordable housing, an enabling environment for business, and a thriving community. As property and business owners in White Rock, we have first-hand experience of the challenges with city services and interacting with city hall; in fact, it was these challenges that inspired us to run for council.

Community engagement is essential for inclusive government. We have a long track record of civic involvement that we will bring into council, along with creative ideas to improve council-staff-resident communications:

Modernizing city hall. We will use technology to improve connections between residents, organizations, and city staff to enable staff to work directly with residents, in real-time, on public challenges such as homelessness, pollution on Semiahmoo Bay or parking issues at the waterfront.

Removing barriers. Instead of expecting citizens to come to city hall, we will explore ways to take city hall to citizens. For instance, and expanding on the idea of modernizing city hall, we will review platforms that use mobile devices to send surveys and questionnaires directly to residents, with input then feeding directly into decisions about city plans and projects. We will also diversify our communications on city plans and projects with more video content and social media.

Boosting participation. Giving residents opportunities to express support for potential project can increase participation. For example, residents could be invited to submit ideas for the conversion of an empty lot on a residential street, with input then enabling city officials to determine whether the public most wants a community garden, a small dog off-leash park, or a fitness circuit. We also commit to creating a Volunteers Bank to enable residents to volunteer for activities in their areas of interest- waterfront clean-up, the removal of invasive plants, community gardening, migratory bird monitoring, etc. The program offers multiple benefits: community engagement, empowerment, ownership, and support for important community projects.

Inspiring ideas. City hall can increase interest and participation by supporting action. For instance, the city could invite residents to submit ideas to improve food security, then provide funding and technical assistance to citizens and organizations to create community gardens and pantries and expand food rescue programs that link local restaurants with community kitchens.

We are both long-time community activists and volunteers who have first knowledge of the importance and power of community engagement. We are passionate advocates of bringing people together through arts and culture, and by creating inviting spaces for residents to gather and spend time with friends and neighbors. In fact, we are currently part of the city’s working group on “place making” and are brainstorming ideas to reimagine and reinvent public spaces across White Rock to strengthen our connections to each other and our city. We commit to creating streets, buildings and public spaces that are interesting, comfortable, accessible, and inviting, and to supporting festivals, markets and special events that bring residents together and visitors to our community.

Crime prevention and policing in White Rock is currently guided by the RCMP’s 2020-2023 Strategic Plan. The plan was developed with consultation with residents, staff and local government, an analysis of the city and service calls, and a review of best practice in policing. The next consultative process will be launched in spring, and we look forward to partnering with the RCMP and residents to share information and provide input into crime and policing priorities and challenges. In the meantime, to prepare for the process and our future roles on Council, we are meeting with the RCMP to discuss existing and new crime and policing concerns in our community, the possible impact on White Rock of Surrey’s transition to a metro police force, and provincial and federal government funding, among other issues.

We commit to declaring a climate crisis emergency and to creating a program of actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Our strategy will include the following measures:

  • reducing greenhouse gas emissions for buildings, transport, and solid waste
  • increasing the use of clean transit by prioritizing good public transit, walkability, and bike lanes
  • developing a green building strategy and encouraging green infrastructure- green roofs and walls, more street trees, rain gardens and on-site renewable energy systems in new buildings
  • creating an urban forest management plan to help preserve and increase our existing stock of mature trees and expand our tree canopy
  • protecting Semiahmoo Bay
    working closely with all levels of government, non-profits, and other stakeholders to find solutions and access funding
  • maintaining pressure on the federal government to deliver on its promise to stop all thermal coal trains through White Rock no later than 2030

We applaud the work of community and faith-based groups, but the burden of care for people experiencing homelessness rests with government, with the support of other community-based stakeholders, not the other way around. We will address the need for a sustainable, more permanent solution for shelters and transitional housing with short-term measures to address immediate needs, and a medium to long term strategy to reduce the need for shelter and transitional housing by increasing the stock of affordable housing.

We will consult with faith-based organizations and other community groups to see whether any immediate, short terms measures can be taken, now, to support their current operations. For instance, we could provide support and relax zoning to enable them to continue or expand existing operations and/or add new programs.

We also commit to researching the city’s current inventory of buildings to assess the viability of temporarily re-purposing any in whole, or in part, and will review making city-owned land available for shelters and/or transitional housing.

We will review options to buy and/or lease suitable housing and/or repurpose buildings. In the medium term, based on a wealth of research that shows that a “housing first” strategy is effective at dramatically reducing homelessness, we commit to the acceleration of the construction of affordable housing. To do so, we’ll review targeted incentives for affordable rental housing developments, including accelerated permitting and approval, waivers for Development Cost charges and Community Amenity Contributions for developments that include at least 20% of secure market rental units, tax credits and exemptions.

Most importantly, because homelessness is a shared problem, we will work with other levels and government, in particular the city of Surrey, regarding shared space and services. We will also work with the provincial and federal governments to access funding for work on homelessness, such as the federal government’s National Housing Strategy Co-Investment Fund which provides low interest and/or forgivable loans and contributions for new affordable housing and the renovation and repair of existing affordable and community housing.

“A plan, to be of any value at all, demands action. Such action be taken only by the Council and the citizens of White Rock. If they wish their city to be properly planned for efficiency, convenience and beauty, and through these, for prosperity, theirs is the responsibility for carrying out the plan.” White Rock’s first OCP, 1958

It has been 65 years since the incorporation of the City of White Rock, and these words are as true today as they were in 1957.

We support action on the implementation of the current OCP, our made-in-White Rock blueprint for growth and development. This version of the plan was adopted in October 2017 after a two year process of research, analysis and broad-based consultation that included inputs from more than 1,500 residents, businesses, and other stakeholders. We have read the OPC, cover to cover, and believe that it offers a plan for growth and development in White Rock that respects the history of our city and the character of our neighborhoods while meeting important goals for housing, infrastructure, services delivery, the environment, transit, business development, arts and culture, sports and leisure, and community engagement. We have concluded that any issues with the OCP are the direct result of actions, or inaction, by previous Councils, rather than with the OCP itself. For example, the two towers approved on Oxford Street in 2015 required rezoning and an amendment to the OCP. Under the current council, despite the fact that the OCP highlights the urgent need for rental housing and includes detailed, neighborhood-specific development guidelines, plus incentives for developers such as the Affordable Housing Bonus (which will support the urgent need for affordable rental homes), the construction of rental housing has sunk to 4%, its lowest rate since 2015.

Like any plan, the OCP is only as good as its implementation. In terms of housing, for instance, implementing the OCP in a coherent, consistent, predictable way will enable White Rock to address the city’s need for more affordable rental housing, more non-market housing for seniors, and more housing options to enable residents to age in place, to attract teachers, healthcare workers and staff for the businesses and services that our community needs.

In addition to respecting the input of residents, implementing the OCP will enable progress towards numerous important goals. For example, taking action on plans for residential and commercial growth in the town-centre, the heart of our city, will provide revenue for investments such as upgrades to the Kent Street Activity Centre and Centennial Park, expanding community food gardens or making our town centre more seniors-friendly with better sidewalks, curbs, and seating. New mixed-use buildings in the town centre will include ground floor commercial space, most of which will serve local people, meaning that more residents will be able to meet their daily needs- groceries, health services, socializing- on foot. This, in turn, means fewer cars in the town centre, which will help reduce green-house gas emissions, congestion and the need for street parking, which itself creates opportunities to convert street parking to patios, parklets and small plazas to meet friends and neighbors. In addition, increased revenue from businesses in the town centre (and other designated commercial areas) will diversify the city’s income streams and reduce its reliance on property taxes, which currently account for around 90% of White Rock’s revenue, a rate higher than any other city in BC, except West Vancouver.

In sum, to be effective in enhancing the standard of living and quality of life of residents across our city, we advocate for the implementation of the OCP.

We commit to adopting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to transform our relations with the Semiahmoo First Nation.

We commit to strengthening and expanding our business sector through direct measures such as streamlining business permitting and creating more commercial space through redevelopment, taking action against commercial land speculators, and prioritizing commercial space for small and medium sized businesses. Indirect measures, as per the OCP, include improving public transit, increasing density, and creating vibrant, more accessible public spaces that attract residents and visitors to shop, dine and gather.

The majority of White Rock’s population are senior citizens. We will support our seniors with targeted investments in areas such as affordable seniors’ rental housing and other options that will enable the elderly to age in place, for instance by permitting renovations to create suites for live-in, home-based care. We will expand programs at the Kent Street Activity Centre and Centennial Park, and explore new programs that support a healthy, active, engaged seniors’ community. We will also use Community Amenity Contributions to pay for amenities and infrastructure upgrades that makes our streets and plazas safer and more welcoming for seniors- more benches, lighting, shade trees and uninterrupted sidewalks.

Our goal is to do more with less and reduce the city’s reliance on property taxes. White Rock currently relies on property tax for about 90% of its budget, which is more than any other city in BC except West Vancouver. We commit to diversifying the city’s income primarily by strengthening our business community. Our plan includes various measures:

  • supporting the town centre as a growth and transit hub to attract businesses and people
  • streamlining planning and permitting for new businesses
  • prioritizing commercial space for small and medium sized businesses, particularly locals-serving businesses that enable residents to shop local
  • taking action against commercial land speculators
  • implementing the OCP to create more affordable housing for both staff and customers
  • using Community Development Charges and Amenity Contributions to make our commercial areas more attractive to shop, dine and linger

Supporting businesses will offset pressure on property taxes by diversifying revenue streams for the city. Likewise, a more vibrant business sector will enhance White Rock’s reputation as an all-day, all-season destination, which will be good for local businesses and city revenue. We also commit to optimizing the use of our existing staff, resources, facilities and using Community Amenity Contributions and Community Development Charges to help offset costs associated with service and infrastructure improvements.

The comprehensive implementation of the OCP will provide better outcomes in relation to traffic, roads, sidewalks, and curbs. To this end, we will commit to the following actions:

  • First, we commit to improving and expanding public transit. We will work with TransLink to improve local services, and enhance infrastructure around bus stops with lighting, shelters, and seating. Better transit means more widely used transit, which in turn means lower green house gas emissions, reduced congestion, better bike lanes, and the possible conversion of parking to parklets, patios and other community amenities.
  • Second, we will use the OCP to ensure that new construction, especially in our important commercial areas along North Bluff, Johnson Road, and Marine Drive, includes setback to enable wider sidewalks and other amenities.
  • Third, our plan to enhance White Rock’s “walkability” means that we will upgrade sidewalks and curbs for better accessibility, especially for people with mobility challenges.

The waterfront is the jewel of our city, and we commit to preserving its seaside village character while addressing perennial issues such as parking, traffic congestion and accessibility, especially for the elderly and people with mobility issues. Action in this one group of issues, alone, will serve various goals: improved parking, reduced congestion and enhanced accessibility will open space for more patios, benches, and other spaces to gather and linger.

As per OCP guidelines, a waterfront-specific increase in housing will provide an incentive for a greater variety of shops and services at the waterfront and a reduction in empty storefronts, as will taking action against commercial land speculators. We will partner with existing business owners, the Business Improvement Association, and residents to create strategies to revitalize the waterfront and attract businesses that serve both residents and tourists, and will market the area as an all-day, all-season destination.

At the same time, we will partner with these stakeholders and the police to find solutions for some of the anti-social behaviour reported at the waterfront- littering, beach fires and parties, speeding, parking violations, petty crime, etc. Pressure on the waterfront will be relieved by implementing OCP plans to make the town centre the hub of civic, social, and cultural life that will offer alternative activities, particularly to young people.