White Rock places electronic donation box at pier so public can help pay for upgrades

Visitors to White Rock’s famous pier will notice a new addition as they trod the boards.

The city has erected an electronic donation box at the start of the pier so that everyone can donate towards improvements.

The pier suffered major damage during a windstorm in December 2018.

Winds of up to 91 kilometres per hour sent sailboats crashing into the structure, severing it mid-span and forcing a helicopter rescue of one man trapped on the other side.

The pier was rebuilt but now the city wants to improve it to withstand future natural disasters and earthquakes.

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The city has put aside $3.1 million but says about $15 million is needed for the repairs.

Karpel Bilim, who was walking on the pier on Tuesday, told Global News that he would be happy to donate to help rebuild the pier.

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“If the public chips in, nothing wrong with that,” he said.

Resident Mignon Deleeuw said she would also donate.

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“I think it’s a good idea, but I think more education is needed as to what exactly needs to be done,” she said. “I think this whole area needs seismic updating.”

However, Deleeuw did not think raising taxes to cover the costs would be the best course of action.

“Taxes are stretching the boundaries already, that’s how I feel,” she added.

Resident Jan Miller said she has been paying taxes in White Rock for 15 years and should not be soliciting donations from the public.

“They’ve gotten enough grants to restore this thing,” she said. “They’ve gotten enough taxes. Our parking alone would pay for it and we’re not seeing any of that money.”

Miller said everyone she knows is deferring their taxes as they cannot afford to live.

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“Everyone in my age group, 70s and 80s, all my neighbours, we are deferring our taxes. There is no other way. And they’ll have our house eventually and they’ll get the taxes.”

Click to play video: 'White Rock defers project to make Canada’s longest pier wheelchair accessible'

White Rock defers project to make Canada’s longest pier wheelchair accessible

Amy Webb, who owns Maya’s Ice Cream agreed with Miller.

“The taxes that we have to pay as business owners are extraordinarily high,” she said. “I’m also a White Rock resident, and I pay an enormous amount in taxes. There’s so many other things that they need to spend money on. I don’t actually feel like the pier needs to be updated. They just did the first half of it when we had that storm. And does it really need an upgrade?”

Click to play video: 'White Rock Pier reopens to the public'

White Rock Pier reopens to the public

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In a statement, the City of White Rock said the new section includes steel pipes and a concrete deck with timber planks.

“White Rock has a very small tax base,” the statement read. “For example, raising $300,000 from taxpayers would require a 1 per cent tax increase. A project of the pier’s magnitude is not attainable in the short term given the amount needed. This council has been proactively setting aside funds for the reserve, which currently sits at $3.1M of the $15M needed.”

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