Something has to be done to clean up the woefully shabby appearance of some areas of North Delta.
That's how Barb Jackson, Mayor Lois Jackson's daughter, feels about the community she recently returned to live in.
Barb Jackson conveyed her concerns about the state of North Delta in a letter to the Surrey Leader, writing, "Drive down any given street and they should be renamed either Crack House Alley, Grow Op Lane, or Renters Avenue."
Jackson, who grew up in North Delta but moved away in early adulthood, has returned to live with her family since her sister's death. She lives in a house with her mother, the longtime Delta council member who's been mayor since 1999.
She said over the years it seems like rental properties have ruined North Delta, adding people used to have pride in their homes, yards and gardens, but that's not the case any longer.
In a telephone interview this week, Jackson told the Delta Optimist her concerns were not intended to slam those in charge at municipal hall, but rather those buying houses as investments.
She said something needs to be done to encourage absentee landlords to keep up their properties and not allow neighbourhoods to run down.
"I grew up here but it's really changed... there's lots of places that are beautiful and well maintained but drive down 92nd Avenue and you'll see what I'm talking about. It's the pride of ownership of the homeowners and if they're not given incentive to keep up the property, it devalues everyone else's property in the neighbourhood."
Jackson said more punitive tax measures for property owners who don't live in the homes they own, or perhaps incentives to maintain their houses, should be introduced.
Noting low-income renters need a place to live, Jackson said the lack of apartment rentals in North Delta is one of the problems. Another issue, she said, is that many residents who own and live in their own homes are now much older and need help keeping their places maintained.
As far as Delta's long-term goal of redeveloping Scott Road, Jackson said, "It's been a battle even when I was a teenager to get Scott Road cleaned up. There was always a bad area from 96th to 88th (avenues) and it hasn't changed in 30 years."
She noted the heart of North Delta at one time was Kennedy Heights, which was a thriving area, but now it's not appealing.
As far as the housing behind Scott Road, she said there are some areas that look so bad she wouldn't want to walk down those streets at night alone.
Asked for a response to her daughter's concerns, Mayor Lois Jackson said Barb, like herself, isn't afraid to express her opinion.
The mayor said bylaw enforcement acts promptly if a complaint is filed and that municipal hall passed a secondary suite bylaw this year to bring basement units up to standards.
The mayor admitted North Delta has its challenges, predominantly due to an aging housing stock and a lack of variety. She said solutions are being explored.
"I look at some of those townhouses down 64th Avenue (Surrey side of Scott Road) and there's some really nice places there," she said.
"We don't seem to have the right zoning and I'm going to be really glad to get this North Delta Area Plan underway because there's a lot we can explore, including more variety of housing."
The Scott Road corridor has been identified by Delta as a priority for the area plan review. According to the municipality, because there has been little development on Scott Road following the adoption of the existing area plan, a detailed economic study of Scott Road was commissioned to help identify why development hasn't occurred, the types that would be appropriate, and incentives that could be used to encourage and attract it.
Earlier this year the municipality began a review of the North Delta Area Plan, which hasn't been updated since 1995.
While the new plan will cover all of North Delta, four special areas of attention have been identified: Scott Road revitalization, 80th Avenue boulevard, North Delta Social Heart and neighbourhood planning issues.
At around 52,000 residents, North Delta has a bigger population than the municipality's other two communities of Ladner and Tsawwassen combined.