White Rock’s pier will be the site of a private fundraising event this summer, after city council voted Monday to approve the historic landmark’s use for the ticketed affair.
The Aug. 11 event, called Picnic on the Pier, is an initiative of Landmark Premiere Properties, the developer proposing three 25-storey residential towers in the town centre. Funds raised at the event – which is being organized by special-events firm Pace Group – will benefit the Peace Arch Hospital and Community Health Foundation.
According to a city staff report, two-thirds of the pier will be closed to the public from 8 a.m. to midnight on the day of the event, which is expected to attract upwards of 200 attendees for a “long-table dinner.”
Though council unanimously approved the event, concerns were raised about the developer sponsorship as well as the impact of closing the pier to the public.
Coun. Lynne Sinclair recalled the August 2014 Party on the Pier – which celebrated the pier’s 100th anniversary and raised money for Semiahmoo Arts – describing it as a “wonderful event by all accounts” that attracted negative publicity.
“Some people complained to the Peace Arch News that there was no way the pier should ever be closed to the public,” Sinclair said. “In the wake of that, in spite of the fact that the Peace Arch News was a sponsor and the editor had a great time at the party, he chose to write an editorial basically condemning it in terms of closing it to the public. So I have some trepidation about this.”
Staff responded that signage and advertising would help to convey that the event is for a community fundraiser, and only a portion of the pier would be closed.
Couns. Helen Fathers and David Chesney both expressed hesitation about Landmark – whose Martin Street highrise project has yet to be approved – sponsoring the event.
“I’m not against corporate sponsorship… but I’m not comfortable with that optic at this point,” Chesney said.
Sinclair said she previously shared those concerns, but realized it was “no different than other developers in the past (who) have come forward to support the Tour de White Rock.”
“We don’t get the money in any way shape or form,” Sinclair said. “What Landmark, I suspect, is trying to do is build community support for their proposal, not our support.”
Mayor Wayne Baldwin noted that the site of the Landmark proposal – in the 1500-block of Martin Street – is already pre-zoned for 25 storeys.
“All they’re going to be coming to us for is a development permit, which deals with appearance, landscaping and that sort of thing,” Baldwin said. “And that’s not really controversial.”