White Rock residents adamantly opposed of the city’s plan to build a parkade near the waterfront made their presence known at a city-held public-information session Thursday evening.
The attendance sheet of Thursday’s information session – held in the Centre for Active Living’s education room – was signed by 63 people.
Residents were asked to fill out comment sheets and indicate if they were for, against or undecided on the parkade project proposed for Victoria Avenue and Vidal Street. Of approximately 51 comment-sheet responses, 44 were against, three for, three undecided and one unchecked.
Cost estimates for the West Beach project range from $9.25 million for a four-storey structure to $13 million for six storeys.
The height of the structure has yet to be formalized by the city, but drawings presented at the information session showed six storeys. The city’s website indicates the facility would house 334 parking stalls.
Peace Arch News talked to about a dozen attendees, all but one of whom spoke passionately against the parkade.
The price-tag of the facility was a recurring concern of residents who spoke to PAN. Some residents said it’s too much and speculated that the parking facility would be empty for eight months of the year.
The most popular issues raised pertained to traffic and safety.
“Where I live, when I hear an emergency vehicle – ambulance, fire – already my heart is in my mouth because I know those streets are already jammed. I can’t imagine the further impact of another 300 vehicles,” said Murray Simpson, who lives across the street from the property.
“It’s already bad, and I think this would make it worse. Let alone the visual impact of it, I think it’s a very poor idea.”
However, Tyson Blume, owner of Uli’s Restaurant a block from the proposed parkade, said the facility is an absolute necessity.
Blume said his restaurant loses customers every day due to a lack of parking, and that the issue has a trickle-down affect, impacting reservations and table availability.
He noted the city’s imminent upgrade to Memorial Park will result in a loss of parking stalls in front of his restaurant.
“We’re losing about 40 stalls right in front of my business, and this project is something that makes me feel better about that,” he said. “In light of all the negative news that Marine Drive has received, this is something that’s a real positive for merchants.”
Blume said the additional parking stalls could attract more merchants to the waterfront and it opens the door for diversification of businesses.
Two residents each told PAN that the project would be better-suited uptown with a trolley system that brings people to and from the beach. Three residents shared concerns with not only the project itself, but how the process unfolded.
“I think it’s a concern how it’s being pushed through. The new OCP, it’s already in there. They already changed the zoning,” Vickie Darts said. “It’s basically a done deal, they have these meetings, these meetings are show-and-sell.”
Roger Bockstael said that in the winter – “when there’s nobody parking there” – teenagers are going to use the parkade as a place to do drugs and skateboard.
“Maybe I’m taking it to a bit of an extreme; at the end of the day, this is an oceanside community and we’re going to put a six-storey parkade in an oceanside community. It’s just ridiculous,” Bockstael said.
Resident Sandy Nightingale said she has environmental concerns.
“If the city says they want to go green, this is not the way to go green,” she said, noting that the facility will add light pollution, noise pollution and extra exhaust from vehicles.
The meeting was staffed by members from the city’s engineering department.