October 12, 2018 5:44 pm
Updated: October 14, 2018 2:09 pm

Delta mayoral candidates have their say on transportation, change at city hall

Constant traffic jams at the Massey Tunnel is one of Delta's key election issues.

Darlene Heidemann/Global News
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For the first time in nearly two decades Delta will have a new mayor. With Lois Jackson not running again, voters are going to get a change, if they want it or not.

The city is facing a lot of challenges. The change in government in Victoria meant the proposed Massey Tunnel replacement project has been shelved, with no immediate plans on how to replace the tunnel.

Like most areas in the Lower Mainland, houses have become unaffordable, with the crisis pushing its way out from the city core.

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READ MORE: Live B.C. election results 2018: Find your riding and candidates

Global News asked all mayoral candidates running for election in Delta, four questions about transportation, housing, a change at city hall and any other important issue they think should be addressed.

The responses are posted below, unedited from the candidates who replied and also identify those who are running but did not respond to the questions before deadline. Candidates were asked to answer each question in less than 100 words.

Sylvia Bishop

1) One of the major issues in Delta is transportation as commuters are finding themselves stuck in daily gridlock. As the replacement for the Massey Tunnel remains at a stand-still, how are you planning to solve the community’s transportation issues?

Delta’s next mayor must be able to forge alliances and work with all levels of governments. The new composition of the Mayor’s Council offers an opportunity to renew the case for a new crossing and improved Translink services. At the same time, I will press the provincial government for a decision on a new Fraser River crossing. I am the only candidate to continuously raise the need for improved public transit: more buses, more frequently and the return of the Express Buses from South Delta directly to Downtown Vancouver. In addition it is time to consider the return of the car pool vans, sponsored and subsidized by local businesses.

2) Housing affordability is an issue that spreads across the Lower Mainland. How are you going to ensure Delta is able to provide affordable housing options to both attract new citizens, and keep those in the community?

Team Delta and I announced a Housing Action Plan earlier in the campaign. We will hold a Housing Summit within the first 100 days of office, bringing together housing activists, builders, developers, economists, and others inorder to develop a Made in Delta solution. There are excellent examples of innovative ideas we may adapt from cities such as Langford, Quesnel and New Westminster. The Summit results can inform policies and by-laws. In addition, we will encourage partnerships with BC Housing and work with CMHC to assist builders interested in building rental accommodations.

3) Delta is about to experience a major shift. After almost two decades, long-standing Delta Mayor Lois Jackson is stepping aside. What changes do you see for city hall?

Delta does many things well. But it is time for a change in leadership. People are telling us so on the doorstep. Team Delta and I are running on a platform of New Leadership and New Ideas. We have shown this by announcing: a Housing Action Plan, a Health Care Action plan to attract more family doctors to work in Delta, the establishment of an Economic Development Office, a Fiscal Framework forecasting revenues and expenditures for the next 5 years.

4) What issue – not covered above – are you hoping to address in your community?

As part of the Fraser Health Authority, Delta needs more family doctors. We are an ageing population and the older we get, the more care we need. Yest the FHA has the lowest ration of GPs to residents. Team Delta and I intend to use some of the revenue coming from the casino to recruit GPs to the city. We will go to medical schools and job fairs to recruit. And we will offer to cover costs to visit/re locate, assist with establishing offices to practice, and will help with reducing student debt. Under a contract to serve the city for several years in return, we believe this is a good investment in community health.

Jim Cessford – answers have been edited to meet length requirements

1) One of the major issues in Delta is transportation as commuters are finding themselves stuck in daily gridlock. As the replacement for the Massey Tunnel remains at a standstill, how are you planning to solve the community’s transportation issues?

Transportation is a major issue for Delta. We must improve our Transit Service: Transit have a 10 year plan that doesn’t include Delta. When I asked it is apparent that this is down to Delta’s Policy of isolation and non-cooperation. With a budget of $32million I am convinced that we can work together, but first, I will increase bus lanes and traffic lights that prioritize buses as one step to improve our gridlock situation. We will re-instate the 601 to Vancouver and improve intercity bus services connecting our communities. I believe that we should be focused on moving people not cars.

2) Housing affordability is an issue that spreads across the Lower Mainland. How are you going to ensure Delta is able to provide affordable housing options to both attract new citizens, and keep those in the community?

Maintaining the character and history of our neighborhoods along with providing the options people need in each phase of their life is a challenge that I will take on. As we take on the decision of what is the best use of space in Delta to meet all our residents needs and to enhance the quality of life in Delta, we need fair, open and transparent processes. All residents deserve to have a voice and to know how decisions are made.

We will negotiate with developers for 15-20% of all new housing stock to be affordable, in whatever form the community needs.

3) Delta is about to experience a major shift. After almost two decades, long-standing Delta Mayor Lois Jackson is stepping aside. What changes do you see for city hall?

I will get things done in a transparent, ethical and timely manner. My team have listened and heard what residents and staff have said over the past six months. It is clear to me that we must change some decisions that have been made and the toxic culture at City Hall that led to those decisions. We will start with enacting a Whistle Blower and an Anti-Bullying Policy to protect staff and residents. Delta has had no strategic plan or long-term vision. An Official Community Plan is not the same and it has been changed at the whim of City Hall.

4) What issue – not covered above – are you hoping to address in your community?

Residents told me that public safety is a top concern. We need to stop the criminals coming into Delta. No Call Too Small created one of the safest communities in Canada. Our paramedics, police and fire fighters need our support and I will bring our frontline protectors together. We need a second ambulance in South Delta, and I will add a fire squad with an SUV that is fully equipped for medical emergencies. Over the past few years I lost 7 young friends that I had coached to overdoses, one of the things I wish to do is to establish a 24 hour detox safe house.

George Harvie

1) One of the major issues in Delta is transportation, commuters are finding themselves stuck in daily gridlock. As the replacement for the Massey Tunnel remains at a stand-still, how are you planning to solve the community’s transportation issues?

As mayor, one of my top priorities will be getting to the table with the federal and provincial governments and a newly-elected Mayor’s Council to push for the shovel-ready bridge. I have a proven record in working across government lines to deliver for the people of Delta, and I’m prepared to do what it takes to move this project forward because not only is this commute congested and unsafe – it’s affecting our economic development.

I will also press for diversified transportation options on the replacement project to promote healthier, low-carbon transit choices and move the region towards its sustainability goals.

2) Housing affordability is an issue that spreads across the Lower Mainland, how are you going to ensure Delta is able to provide affordable housing options to both attract new citizens, and keep those in the community?

I will completely re-engineer our building permit process to dramatically reduce red tape and get projects completed faster. This will result in less cost to the purchaser/renter and will allow the city to more quickly collect property taxes, which we will invest back into Delta.

By working with local builders, I will identify opportunities for development in town centres. I will ensure no one gets left behind by working with agencies, the provincial and federal governments, and local builders to fill the gaps: housing for rental, seniors looking to downsize, and young families working to enter the market.

3) Delta is about to experience a major shift, after almost two decades long standing Delta mayor Lois Jackson is stepping aside. What changes do you see for City Hall?

Delta’s next mayor has big shoes to fill. Working alongside Mayor Jackson, who’s now running for council on my slate, I’m proud of our accomplishments. But there’s more work to be done. Delta needs a bridge. We need more housing options. In the face of cannabis legalization and a regional gang problem, we need to keep Delta safe. But we need a renewed council to work harmoniously to make that happen – and Achieving for Delta is the only slate of diverse, award-winning community leaders who’ve demonstrated an ability to work together to put Delta residents before politics. We need to elect them.

4) What issue – not covered above – are you hoping to address in your community?

I’m hearing daily that people love living in Delta, but between Translink, Metro Vancouver, and ICBC, they’re feeling the pinch of rising taxes and fees across the board, and they’re not sure if a future here is possible. I’m concerned that after nearly two decades of low taxes, Delta could lose its way as a fiscally responsible city, and it’s these young families and seniors who are going to feel it the most. That’s exactly who I’m working to protect – and it’s why we’re committed to keeping taxes low by setting a four-year fiscal plan and sticking to it to keep Delta debt-free.

Moneca Kolvyn – answers have been edited to meet length requirements

1) One of the major issues in Delta is transportation as commuters are finding themselves stuck in daily gridlock. As the replacement for the Massey Tunnel remains at a standstill, how are you planning to solve the community’s transportation issues?

First-we need an accountability panel so whatever choices are offered, there are no special interest groups involved like Toigo for his agricultural land, or LNG tankers moving up river. We also have to “have a plan”. The Alex Fraser has incredible gridlock-a bridge is not a god sent solution. We need to assess transportation which works. Get people out of their cars and into a system that will work for them. Transit is supposed to be better and faster than a car-but not so in BC! Throw out the archaic plans that aren’t working and get some real people that actually commute these routes involved.

2) Housing affordability is an issue that spreads across the Lower Mainland. How are you going to ensure Delta is able to provide affordable housing options to both attract new citizens, and keep those in the community?

Affordable housing is such a cliché. We have thousands of square feet of warehouse that would likely embrace live above work spaces. We also have thousands of houses that would likely be happy to rent basements out quite affordably if they weren’t cited for increased property taxes or lose their OAP because they are taking in a mere say $500 for their basement. Tiny houses have to be an option for homeowners. The politicians always think they have a plan, or everyone needs government intervention. Not so-STOP taxing anyone who is offering solutions!

3) Delta is about to experience a major shift. After almost two decades, long-standing Delta Mayor Lois Jackson is stepping aside. What changes do you see for city hall?

I can only wish for some real democracy. City Hall has morphed into an archaic, patronizing, old school mentality, which simply does not recognize that the tax payer is actually the customer. Customer care is dismal and Delta’s communication with all levels of government is broken. Translink virtually ignored Delta in it’s 10 year strategic plan. I only see changes if er actually vote for change. Anyone complicit in golden handshakes-which is every councillor and mayor-plus George Harvie who wrote the crazy document-needs to go.

4) What issue – not covered above – are you hoping to address in your community?

I am hoping, above all else-to bring an accountability panel to City Hall. I cringe at all the promises rolling out-there is not a hope that all these promises will be achieved. I have promised to have an accountability panel to keep politicians honest. I have promised to listen to residents, answer EVERY call, do everything in my power to buy back the remaining Burns Bog slated for development and take public consultations seriously. Over 500 residents showed up to protest the casino-council voted in favour. How??? The majority of Delta residents are in favour of a tunnel expansion-not bridge(even with a show of hands at a debate) yet council voted for a bridge.

Alex Megalos – answers were not received on time

Vytas Vaitkus – answers have been edited to meet length requirements

1. One of the major issues in Delta is transportation as commuters are finding themselves stuck in daily gridlock. As the replacement for the Massey Tunnel remains at a standstill, how are you planning to solve the community’s transportation issues?

I am the only candidate that is pushing to get out of the ‘analysis paralysis’ phase of the Massey Tunnel undertaking. Other candidates complain about how long it has taken – however, they have also been part of the problem.
1) – A Rapid Rail Solution from the Tsawwassen Ferry terminal with stops at the TFN mall, Ladner, Richmond and DT Vancouver . Would also like to see a route along Hwy 99, then up Scott Road with stops at major intersections.
2) – a restriction to heavy vehicles during rush hour traffic times
3) – electronic surveillance and intervention to distracted driving.

2) Housing affordability is an issue that spreads across the Lower Mainland. How are you going to ensure Delta is able to provide affordable housing options to both attract new citizens, and keep those in the community?

Delta’s pride and richness comes from the 60’s and 70’s development. Larger lots, well maintained homes, landscape upkeep, unique designs, etc…… are why I enjoy living in Delta. These houses have made many people ‘house’ millionaires but it is not a sustainable situation with double digit increases in house appraisals.
*** Conscious, proactive planning in respect to development and neighborhood change needs to be front-and-center in order to create affordable options without sacrificing the backbone of the city. We have seen subdivision and some well thought out higher-density community developments (condos and townhouses) without having to encroach on ALR.

3) Delta is about to experience a major shift. After almost two decades, long-standing Delta Mayor Lois Jackson is stepping aside. What changes do you see for city hall?

I have attended a number of meetings being run by Council/Mayor and senior staff. The major shift that needs to happen is accountability and community engagement. I am tired of being treated like an ignorant taxpayer.
My Delta First platform is about bringing more communications and transparency to government – as well as a big bucket of humility. I want to bring energy back to Delta; people to Gov’t, Gov’t to people, people to Gov’t, Gov’t back to people – because that’s how you continue to get better as things change.

4) What issue – not covered above – are you hoping to address in your community?

Reasons for staying.
Delta, over the last 10 years, has become like sand-in-the-hand. The fingers have opened up and the sand is running through them.
– Ladner Village needs a rejuvenation and purpose – maybe an Artisan hub?
– We need athletic facilities to stay up with demands of our vibrant community – I am tired of fields and tracks being focused on during election campaigns.
o Delta produces world class athletes but we have rural caliber facilities to support them
– Post-Secondary Facility focusing on environmental sciences, marine biology and agriculture
o Grade 12s go away, then their parents go away

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