Members of the Ladner Business Association had an opportunity to hear from the City of Delta’s new manager at the association’s weekly meeting last week.
The Oct. 5 meeting at the Kee Cafe in the McKee House Seniors Recreation Centre was also a first chance for Donny van Dyk, recently hired by the city, to talk about his experiences as city manager for the City of Penticton, a position he held for the past five years, and what he hopes Delta can accomplish as changes and challenges lay ahead.
Noting he is excited to be moving to Ladner, van Dyk remarked he is also looking forward to work for a mayor and council that are working together to try to achieve a common goal and a common vision.
“I think there’s a great team at city hall and there’s a great team on council as well,” he said.
van Dyk said Penticton had also been going through a period of little growth, but is now in a sustained period of planned growth. He later noted that Delta’s Official Community Plan will need to be refreshed, so that sustained growth does not have to come slowly project-by-project.
LBA members got to ask questions including Mike Owen, a member of the Ladner Sediment Group, who wanted to know how Delta can address a series of issues including dike upgrades and dredging. Owen also wanted to know how riverfront homeowners and businesses can get permits for dredging in a more timely manner.
van Dyk said he understands riparian issues well and that an area of Penticton had similar challenges to overcome, responded that the city will have an even more “aggressive effort to advocate” to not only the group of statutory decision makers but also “all the bosses up the chain.”
On hand for the meeting, Coun, Dylan Kruger agreed, saying the dredging issue has been an ongoing one for decades and it will be helpful to have fresh ideas and perspectives that van Dyk can bring.
Architect and planner Brain Hart asked how can Delta expect to fulfill a housing mandate by the province to add 700 homes a year for the next five years, when the city has no capability to even process that many requests and that finding enough builders will be a challenge.
van Dyk assured that the city is indeed capable.
He also said during the question-and-answer session that the city needs to be more strategic in adding new infrastructure in order to meet its targets.
Asked how the city can adapt to changes including an aging demographic, van Dyk responded that the city needs to embark on a more formal community engagement process when it comes to planning future growth and change, something that’s worked in Penticton. He added such a process of engagement could result in less adversarial responses to proposed projects.
Previous to his role Penticton, van Dyk, originally from Terrace, was at Enbridge where he worked in various roles in community and Indigenous relations, government affairs and finance.
Before that, he served in the B.C. municipal public sector where he held the position of chief administrative officer for the District of New Hazelton.