Resident says he can't seem to get a straight answer on development
Victoria Avenue resident David Bradshaw is still fuming that he can't get any consistent answers from White Rock officials on a Marine Drive development being built in front of his home.
Bradshaw, who voiced his concerns on the Waves on Marine project to Peace Arch News earlier this month, appeared as a delegation to council's July 28 meeting to express his frustration.
He said the lengthy project is impacting the health and safety of neighbours directly behind it, due to day-long jackhammering at the site and the impact of silica dust on air quality.
Response from city officials has been inconsistent at best, he said.
"I can't seem to get a straight answer from the city," he said. "Or I get confusing answers, or different answers from different departments."
Bradshaw said the silica dust – from a recent, but poorly-constructed, retaining wall that has since been torn down – has been sucked directly into homes behind the project through their air intakes.
"The company did nothing to abate this," Bradshaw said. "Silica dust is a carcinogen, according to the WCB. The city is studying it, but we're breathing it in."
Bradshaw said while he had assumed that the city had some oversight of the construction process, he has since received the impression that city engineers are content to accept the judgment of project engineers that all is proceeding as it should.
"Does everything fall on the homeowner?" he asked. "Because that's what I'm getting from the engineers."
Mayor Wayne Baldwin told Bradshaw the city would act to help resolve and mediate the situation.
"I understand your frustration," he said. "We'd like to help you with this."
Meanwhile, city officials are double-checking measurements on the development, following ongoing concern it is also being built higher than it should be.
City documents show the approved height of the project jumped by more than two feet in the weeks between a public hearing in September 2012 and council approval of the bylaw amendment the following month.
"How can you have a discrepancy of that? That's huge and it's nonsense," Coun. Al Campbell told PAN last week. "All I'm saying is, we will and we are… rechecking the survey, rechecking the height. This is forever for these people and… they have a right to ask the question."
The previous week, city manager Dan Bottrill assured that the developer – Tatla Developments – had promised to meet the lower measurement.
The city's director of development services, Karen Cooper, agreed.
The original files and applications are being reviewed, and the finished project will be checked for compliance, she said Monday. If it measures too high, the developer will have to bring it down to size, she said.
Bradshaw first contacted PAN last month out of frustration with apparent inaction of city officials to his concerns regarding work at the site.
Campbell said citizens affected by any project deserve a prompt response. He said height of the Marine Drive project was a focus throughout consultation, and he questioned why commercial developers are given leeway in that regard.
Builders of single-family homes are not afforded the same slack, he said.
"It always seems to me a commercial development seems to get somehow a little higher than it's meant to be," the councillor said. "It's usually, 'oh we converted from imperial to metric.'
"What they do, they round it up. If you take a calculator and you convert a metre to feet and inches, it's not 3.3 it's 3.28. There is an actual."
Campbell conceded the developers in this case might be correct.
"But when somebody phones in and says, look, I had an understanding that this building was going to be just up to my sitting-room window and it's not, it's at the top… you have to pay attention to that," he said.
"And then when two numbers are thrown out there and they're using the greater of the two, hang on – we've got to check that out."
Campbell said "grey areas" in some of the city's rules have landed the municipality in hot water before, and he commended Cooper for "cleaning up… wording that got us into trouble in the past."
"She's not just saying that's how it is, she's saying I'll look into it," Campbell said.
Bradshaw believes many of the issues could have been avoided if the city had brought all of the stakeholders together when the project was first proposed. As well, he wishes such issues as noise and air pollution were woven into the city's building-permit process.
Bradshaw agreed steps being taken now – including a 'good neighbour policy' being drafted – are a positive.
"But… it doesn't do us any good. It just seems to get worse and worse," he said.
Developer Kulpdeep Tatla previously told PAN all city guidelines were being followed, and that Bradshaw's concerns were those of a disgruntled homeowner.
– with files from Tracy Holmes