Some landscape-altering projects are now in the works in Delta and 2013 promises to be a critical year for these undertakings.
One, the South Fraser Perimeter Road, is scheduled to open, while the form or fate of others could be decided in the coming 12 months.
Here's a list, in no particular order, of some of those major stories that will eventually result in an impact on South Deltans:
South Fraser Perimeter Road
This isn't a new story, as the SFPR has been a decade in the making, but by the end of this year the highway will be an everyday reality.
The SFPR will be a 40-kilometre, four-lane route along the south side of the Fraser River, from Deltaport Way in South Delta to 176th Street (Highway 15) in Surrey.
The first stretch of SFPR, now officially named Highway 17, opened last month in Surrey. The current Highway 17 in South Delta has been renamed Highway 17A.
The second and final phase of SFPR, a stretch from 136th Street in Surrey to Deltaport Way, is to be finished by December.
Municipal engineer director Steven Lan explained that trucks heading to Deltaport through the George Massey Tunnel will not turn off at Highway 17, but instead will be directed further along Highway 99 to a new SFPR interchange near 72nd Street. Other motorists heading to Tsawwassen can also use the new route.
Meanwhile, those coming out of Tsawwassen or from the ferry terminal will travel along the new highway to the interchange at Highway 99, where they can proceed on Highway 99 toward the tunnel.
Those in Tsawwassen wanting to take the old Highway 17A and avoid the SFPR can do so via a single-lane off-ramp. Highway 17A will be designated as local road for Ladner-bound traffic, but the stretch of highway won't be downloaded to Delta.
Lan said that's because it's still a provincial highway that can expect lots of traffic thanks to Tsawwassen First Nation development.
Tsawwassen First Nation
By now, most Deltans are well aware of the major housing developments and shopping mall plans. Preliminary site work has already begun for the malls and the start of the next phase, involving bringing in fill, will commence this month. The First Nation notes it's taking all possible steps to minimize traffic disruptions, but limited lane closures may be in effect on Highway 17A during off-peak hours.
The TFN Economic Development Corporation is in partnership with Ivanhoe Cambridge and Property Development Group to develop almost 1.8 million square feet of shopping and office space on 72 hectares (180 acres) just off Highway 17A at 52nd Street. Ivanhoe Cambridge's project would comprise 1.2 million square feet as a destination retail and entertainment centre.
Called Tsawwassen Mills, it would follow the model of the huge CrossIron Mills north of Calgary and Vaughan Mills north of Toronto. Property Development Group is planning to develop an outdoor retail mall comprising 550,000 square feet called Tsawwassen Commons. The shopping centres are to open by 2015. The TFN is in the planning stages of major road upgrades and alterations to deal with the traffic volume.
In the coming 12 months the First Nation will also be moving forward with large-scale housing and industrial developments while trying to reach some sort of agreement to increase sewer capacity to service all these projects.
On another front, truckloads of garbage heading to TFN are still a real possibility as the First Nation is in the running to build a waste-to-energy facility. Metro Vancouver is examining options and could make a decision in 2013.
T2 and the future of farmland
A new three-berth container facility is inching closer to reality as Port Metro Vancouver's proposed Terminal 2 would double container capacity at Roberts Bank.
The port, which recently wrapped up its latest consultations on a preliminary T2 design, notes the project will be subject to a thorough and independent environmental assessment. Subject to environmental approvals, the project, which could be operational by 2024, would be made up of three major components: the marine terminal, road and rail infrastructure on the Roberts Bank causeway and upland road and rail infrastructure.
Meanwhile, the port authority is still working on revising its land use plan and expects completion this year. The possibility of vast tracts of the Agricultural Land Reserve being lost for port-related development was big news this year and may be just that in 2013.
Pointing to the shortage of industrial land, Port Metro Vancouver CEO Robin Silvester told Delta council that taking farmland out of the ALR would be a last resort.
The 215-hectare (536-acre) property in Tsawwassen is perhaps the most contentious piece of real estate in Delta's history. This promises to be a pivotal year in the property's history as the Century Group is proposing to build 950 housing units while deeding a large tract of land to Delta for community-based farming.
It remains to be seen how that application, which faces fierce opposition, particularly from Boundary Bay residents, plays out this year as Delta council will consider giving it preliminary approval in the next couple of months.
There's no doubt a big crowd, with forces both pro and con, will be in attendance should the application receive first and second reading to make it to a public hearing.
George Massey Tunnel
Premier Christy Clark announced last September that consultations would begin to replace the aging crossing, long a source of frustration for local commuters. More consultations, including discussions on the type of crossing and where it would be located, will take place this year, although a replacement is still a decade away.