"My number one priority for the City of Delta is to advocate for the much-needed replacement of the aging and seismically unsafe George Massey Tunnel. The traffic bottleneck at the Massey Tunnel is the worst in all of BC – and the safety concerns are also top of mind for me.”
1) Did you expect victory in the 2018 municipal elections?
I was certainly optimistic of our chances of success throughout the campaign. Our Achieving for Delta slate put forward an ambitious plan for the future of Delta and we were honoured by the amazing show of support we received from the community. Along with winning the mayoral race, we had four of our six Council candidates elected and three of our four school board trustee candidates elected. I was truly humbled by the faith the people of Delta placed in me, our team, and our vision for this community. I look forward to delivering on those promises over the next four years.
2) What is the top priority on your agenda for the City of Delta right now?
Without question, my number one priority for the City of Delta is to advocate for the much-needed replacement of the aging and seismically unsafe George Massey Tunnel. The traffic bottleneck at the Massey Tunnel is the worst in all of BC – and the safety concerns are also top of mind for me. Delta residents deserve a safe and reliable commute to work. Since my election as Mayor, I have spoken with the Transportation Minister as well as Premier Horgan. I look
forward to working with the provincial government to deliver a safe and reliable new bridge for Delta residents, fully equipped with dedicated HOV lanes, bike lanes, and the capacity for future light rail expansion.
3) What is your plan for fixing the George Massey tunnel?
We must develop a strong working relationship with our provincial representatives and impress upon them the importance of moving forward with this project. Further, we need to earn the buy-in of other Mayors and Councillors South of the Fraser. I think our entire South of the Fraser region has been underserved by transportation infrastructure in recent years. We need to work together to achieve better transportation services for commuters across Delta, Surrey, White Rock and Langley. I look forward to working with our Mayors’ Council to get this done.
4) What will be your biggest challenge?
One of the greatest challenges in our community is ensuring that residents across South and North Delta feel like they are being treated fairly. For too long, residents in North Delta have felt a sense of alienation from their neighbours in South Delta. A lot of this has to do with distance. Whenever citizens living in North Delta need to access City Hall, they have to drive all the way down to Ladner, sometimes in poor weather, to receive city services. As Mayor, I have committed to holding every other Delta Council Meeting in North Delta – so that if you have an issue or a concern, you can bring it to Council in North Delta. This is a common sense move that I am proud of. It is about fairness and respect for over half of Delta’s population. I am pleased that our first regular meeting of 2018 was held in North Delta and I look forward to keeping my promise to alternate between our two communities for every regular meeting of Council over the next four years.
5) How will your approach be different from that of former Delta Mayor?
I have a lot of respect for Councillor Jackson. Under her leadership as Mayor, we eliminated Delta’s debt and were rated the fourth best city in BC to live and raise a family. I am honoured to have her on our Council, now as a Councillor again, to provide her wisdom and experience, as an asset to our newer Council members. I plan on protecting and expanding on her legacy by keeping Delta debt free and our taxes low, but also by modernizing certain aspects of our municipal government. I look forward to working with staff and Council to increase child care spaces and implement much needed programs for young families across our community. I also want Delta to provide more support to families suffering with mental health and addiction. We can’t let anyone in Delta feel like they are alone. We need to help our neighbours.
6) You have promised to keep taxes low and Delta debt-free. How will you make it happen?
By continuing to grow our Delta tax-base by attracting new businesses to our city centres and industrial areas, we can ensure that Delta has the funding it needs to keep taxes low and our budget in surplus. There is nothing more detrimental to the long-term growth and sustainability of our city than deficits and debt financing. Our young families want to know that their tax dollars are going towards city programs and infrastructure improvements, not debt payments.
7) Housing affordability is also a concern in Delta. How will you tackle the issue?
One of my biggest challenges will be to work with Council to deliver on our commitment to keep young families and seniors in Delta. You know, many young people throughout our community can’t afford to live here anymore. They are being priced out to areas like Langley, Abbotsford, or even further, because there aren’t enough housing options for them here. Same goes for our seniors – we need more housing options so that seniors have the option to downsize and stay in our community rather than move away. I have committed to reworking our permit application process in order to make it easier to create those housing options, without sacrificing the character of our communities or our open agricultural land. We don’t have to choose between protecting our Delta farmland and creating housing options for our young people and our seniors – we can do both and we must do both.
8) What can Delta residents expect in the 2019 budget?
In our 2019 budget, I expect Council to support funding for new infrastructure projects, including our plan to spearhead and fund a new track facility at North Delta Secondary School. Our Delta athletes deserve quality playing surfaces, and so do members of the public. I look forward to working with our School Board counterparts to make this a reality.
9) What will the Delta Families First policy include?
Putting Delta families first means that Delta families get the priority when it comes to registration for Delta Parks and Recreation programs. Right now, Delta families have a short three-day window to sign up for recreation programs before families from outside of our community are allowed to register. In our busy daily lives, three days is simply not enough, and many families are expressing frustration that coveted spots in their favorite programs are being filled up before they get a chance to register.
I am pursuing a policy that will give families two full weeks to register for programs exclusively before those that live outside of the community are invited to fill those spots. I also believe that Delta families should be paying less for these programs, since they are already heavily subsidized through tax contributions to the City.
10) What is your message to the Delta residents?
As the Mayor of Delta, I will strive to build a stronger society that is founded on the values of peace, community and prosperity for all Delta residents.
IMAGES: City of Delta, DARPAN Archives