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Delta mayor says his council's direction long overdue

Harvie says the policy changes underway in Delta should have been implemented years ago
The Mayor’s Economic Business Breakfast 2023 was a well-attended event last week at the Cascades Casino Delta. Coun. Dylan Kruger is pictured addressing the audience, saying the city has an ‘open for business mindset’ as it looks for new economic opportunities.

The City of Delta has made big changes in the way does business with more are on the horizon.

That was the message highlighted during the Mayor’s Economic Breakfast Business on Friday, March 3 with Mayor George Harvie focusing on his theme that Delta is open for business.

Members of the business community and others heard of the city’s ongoing efforts to streamline bureaucracy and red tape to get development approved faster with less cost.

Planning to reduce development permit times to be the best in the Lower Mainland, Harvie during the question-and-answer question portion of the event at the Cascades Casino Delta, was asked how things have changed now that he is mayor, compared to when he took direction from the previous council when he was Delta’s city manager.   

“When I was city manager, there were many things that I wanted to do insofar as to allowing senior staff and executive staff to take responsibility for. They’re well paid, they’re professionals and they should have more responsibility, but I could never get the majority of council to approve that, so, as a city manager, you follow council’s directions.…over the years we’d just get bogged down. Not everything has to go to council, nor should it. We made those changes and we’re now starting to see the effects of streamlining that process,” he said.

Harvie, during his presentation, said enhancing the online application process to make things quicker and easier, as well as other changes, are more ways to get projects completed faster, resulting in more tax dollars coming for the municipality.

Saying the city is working more closely with the school board, Harvie said the city has retained a consultant to assist in looking for further streamlining opportunities.

Harvie has “an ambitious agenda”

While a lot of work has been done, they are “just getting started” on their vision for the city, said Harvie.

First elected as mayor in 2018 and re-elected last fall, along with the rest of his Achieving for Delta council slate, Harvie reiterated many of his election promises such as encouraging more housing types as well as parks and recreation improvements, including, among other things, building a second artificial turf field at Mackie Park to planned major upgrades at the Winskill Aquatic and Fitness Centre.

His lengthy list of initiatives that are being formulated or already being carried out include the city’s electric vehicle strategy and new community energy and emissions plan, a cycling master plan, a new agricultural plan to an updated social action plan and poverty reduction plan.

Harvie noted that Delta’s property taxes are among the lowest in the region.

Delta’s budget will see enhancements in certain areas, such as traffic calming and pedestrian safety, as well as other improvements.

Harvie, who is now chair of Metro Vancouver’s board, has also been at the helm for the planning of other big changes for the city including Delta’s new Housing Action Plan, streamlining the development approvals process to having a new Official Community Plan to encourage redevelopment of Ladner Village, as well as having a special task force come up with a series of recommendations to guide the future redevelopment of the Scott Road corridor.

As far as the long-awaited replacement of the aging George Massey Tunnel, Harvie and council have been lobbying hard for a second exit out of Ladner at River Road. Government officials recently offered council potentially encouraging news that the province is willing to look at the request once the federal funding contribution is known.