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Southlands issue seen in Tsawwassen election results

The results of last Saturday's municipal election clearly indicate Tsawwassen's preference when it comes to the future of the Southlands.

The results of last Saturday's municipal election clearly indicate Tsawwassen's preference when it comes to the future of the Southlands.

That's the reaction from Southlands the Facts, which pointed to the strong showing of mayoral candidate Krista Engelland and successful council candidate Sylvia Bishop at the local polls.

Engelland, who stated her opposition to rezoning the controversial property, won every poll in the community, although she ultimately finished well back of incumbent Lois Jackson.

Bishop, another opponent to development on the Southlands, won five of seven Tsawwassen polls.

"While we are thrilled by the appointment of Sylvia Bishop to council, the overall status quo of mayor and council is disappointing," stated Dana Maslovat, one of the organizers of Southlands the Facts.

"It is quite clear that South Delta is looking for a change in leadership that will unequivocally support preservation of farmland and respect the wishes of the community above the will of a developer. Krista Engelland received overwhelming support in South Delta, topping every polling station in South Delta and receiving 43 per cent of the total votes. To me, this result indicates that Tsawwassen is still staunchly in support of saving the Southlands from development."

Council this fall received Century Group's application to amend the Official Community Plan (OCP) for the property and approved a lengthy public consultation process.

The process will start early in 2012 with a series of public information meetings before council considers preliminary approval of the application. If given that approval, the application would then be subject to its first public hearing.

The application to amend the OCP seeks a comprehensive development for the Southlands that would include agricultural uses, natural habitat, public open space and greenways on 80 per cent of the land - about 429 acres - and residential, commercial, park and institutional uses on the remaining 20 per cent.

Ownership of the 80 per cent would be transferred to the Corporation of Delta. Construction on the remaining 20 per cent would include 950 housing units.

Bishop told the Optimist she's hoping it will be a clear process residents understand and that it doesn't go through the same problems as the Tsawwassen Area Plan, which saw a public hearing halted for a special closed-door mayor's summit.

"The community should be able to come out and express its wishes, both the pro and the con development side, because everyone has the right to air their opinion on it, and that we can reach some final conclusion," she said.

She'll be making sure the process is clear, transparent and correct, said Bishop, noting she doubts the same mistakes that occurred during the 18 months with the area plan would be repeated,

"We know it's going to be a long process and this council most members haven't declared what their position is, but I certainly have been out on this issue since 1981. I think, more than anything, the community needs to have faith restored in a process that it can participate in and be heard."

Bishop noted an ideal solution would have been to hold a referendum during the civic election.

The new council will be sworn in Dec. 5.

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