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Much to like about North Delta

Responding to criticisms about state of some neighbourhoods, civic officials extol positives

North Delta has been getting a bum rap recently and this week civic officials set out to defend the community.

In a presentation to Delta council Monday night, chief administrative officer George Harvie said the "recent media focus on North Delta does not reflect the civic investment in the community."

Earlier this summer, the state of North Delta came under fire on several fronts.

In an interview with the Optimist, after she had penned a letter to the editor, Barb Jackson, Mayor Lois Jackson's daughter, expressed concerns about the state of some North Delta neighbourhoods.

She said over the years it seems like rental properties have ruined the community, adding people used to have pride in their homes, yards and gardens, but that's not the case any longer. Jackson said her comments were not aimed at those in charge at municipal hall but rather those buying houses as investments.

A recently formed civic organization, Renew Delta, also said last month that some areas of Delta are beginning to look worn down. Ranj Heer, a 15-year resident of North Delta and owner of Studio 64, said it's time to see change in order that Delta becomes one of the most vital and livable communities in the Lower Mainland.

Harvie's presentation to council highlighted the municipality's investments in North Delta, including more than $110 million in capital projects, over the last 11 years.

As well, Harvie said homes in that area are now valued, on average, 81.1 per cent higher than in 2004. He added that is something that wasn't seen in North Delta in the past.

Coun. Bruce McDonald, who has been a resident of North Delta for more than 40 years, said it's a great community to live in, however, "there are some areas that are tired."

"There is a lot of North Delta that is doing just fine," added Coun. Anne Peterson.

Harvie said the issue of unsightly, run down properties and absentee landlords is not unique to North Delta.

"This isn't just North Delta's problem," he said. "This is a problem in every community in the Lower Mainland."

He said Delta's bylaw section is "very attentive" to the issue, adding that 16 files were opened in recent weeks in the area around Kennedy House.

The municipality, through a consultant, recently undertook a development incentives study of the Scott Road corridor, which concluded it's an opportune time to take advantage of current market conditions to revitalize the area.

The report from G.P. Rollo and Associates stated that in the coming years population growth will create many opportunities for both new retail space and re-development of existing underperforming retail space.

Options to help stimulate economic development include a quicker turnaround for development applications and tax incentives.

The municipality is also working on a review of the North Delta Area Plan.

Council voted to establish the Invest North Delta Standing Committee with a mandate to "ensure the long-term vibrancy and attractiveness of North Delta and, in coordination with the area plan review process, develop specific implementation measures to promote investment along the Scott Road corridor and existing residential neighbourhoods."

"It is critical that we continually strive to better each and every one of our unique communities into something we are proud of and, as the consultants have pointed out, now is the time to focus on the Scott Road corridor and surrounding area," said Mayor Lois Jackson.

"From infrastructure investments, neighbourhood revitalizations and enhancements to Delta's public safety, we continue to see the benefits of Delta's investment in the community over the last several years firsthand."

jkerr@delta-optimist.com