City of White Rock has decided to move ahead with a long-anticipated ‘gateway project’ on Johnston Road – most likely some form of masonry and steel decorative arch – with city staff estimating the project could cost as much as $1 million.
Council Monday endorsed recommendations to reallocate $1 million from community amenity contributions (CACs) – projected to be received from development projects in 2018 – to get the project rolling.
Although the money had originally been earmarked for East Beach shoreline protection work and promenade project expenditures planned for 2021, chief administrative officer Dan Bottrill told council it would be able to be replaced by other anticipated CACs.
Bottrill said such a gateway, adjacent to North Bluff Road, “has been in the hearts and minds of people” for a long time, noting it had emerged as a public priority during the process of developing the city’s revised OCP and the Johnston Road Streetscape Revitalization Project. The project had been referred by the city’s Public Art Advisory Committee seeking council guidance before issuing a public call for proposals from artists.
“It’s important we recognize that the money source is CACs,” Mayor Wayne Baldwin said. “These cannot be used for infrastructure, they can only be used for community amenities.”
Council asked staff to prepare a request for proposal for the design, creation and installation of a gateway feature, and appointed a selection committee.
“Just because we’re tendering a contract doesn’t mean we have to let it,” Baldwin said. “We can derive some comfort that it’s not a commitment. Let’s get this thing going.”
But Coun. Lynne Sinclair noted the approach council is taking means the gateway “is not, per se, public art.”
“This is a different process,” she said. “That doesn’t mean we won’t have a piece of public art included, or beside it.”
And Coun. Helen Fathers wondered why the project should be moving forward before initial work on the Johnston Road Streetscape Revitalization Project – which needs to be retendered due to an unexpectedly high bid – is underway.
Coun. David Chesney said that while he originally supported the concept, he feared that, given the pace of development, a proposed 20-storey development at Royal Place would soon be mirrored by a similar tower at Central Plaza.
“I think we’re about to get a gateway to White Rock,” he said. “I can’t support a gateway that is sandwiched between two highrises. I think this council has inadvertently created a gateway.”