Garry Shearer is one of the Delta council candidates running in this month's civic election. Here are his responses to a questionnaire from the Optimist:
1. Bio – Tell readers a bit about yourself and why you are running for office.
Garry is a 36 year resident of Tsawwassen. Married to Colleen for 40 years with two grown children. He has a record of success with hi-tech start-up companies in Delta. His commitment as a community volunteer includes: securing the Hospice property as President of the Delta Hospice Society and delivering projects in our community as President of Tsawwassen Rotary and Governor of Rotary in BC.
2. Most pressing issue – What issue are you most passionate about and what action will you take on it?
Delta has amazing volunteer organizations that add so much value in the delivery of services and amenities in our community. Their contributions are a great part of why Delta is such a desirable place to live and raise families. Our City Hall needs to support these groups with funding and resources because our volunteers know how to stretch a dollar and get things done in a timely and effective way.
3. Housing – Delta’s housing stock, developed largely in the 1960s and 1970s, is under pressure. What are your plans to ensure there are affordable housing options and what will you do to protect the integrity of existing neighbourhoods?
We need to collaborate with all levels of government to identify funding and resources to provide housing choices for young families and seniors. But before we advocate for these resources we need to understand what the future of our community looks like through a strategic planning process. It's critical that we protect our agricultural land which limits our foot print for development. We need to determine what our housing needs will be over the next 10 to 30 years and develop the housing mix and density to meet those needs. With a strategic plan in place, we will be better prepared to engage senior levels of government and developers to deliver housing solutions.
4. Marijuana – The legalization of marijuana in Canada has created a number of issues for local government. Do you have concerns over where cannabis could be grown and where it could be sold in Delta?
We are not prepared to deal with the growth and selling of cannabis in Delta. We have to slow the implementation process down until we have some experience on how this will impact our community. BCLS has been identified as the initial distribution point. This should be the only place you can purchase it in Delta for the next 5 years then assess the impact before considering expansion to other retail outlets. Since Delta is one of the largest farm communities in the regional district, we should be given more control by the Agricultural Land Commission over the right to farm legislation as it relates to cannabis, which would allow us to work with our farmers and develop a plan for growing cannabis that makes sense for the community of Delta.
5. Lobby for bridge/crossing – The City of Delta has been an outspoken advocate for a new Fraser River crossing, specifically the 10-lane bridge approved by the former Liberal government. Would your administration continue to advocate for the bridge or do you support a different approach?
We need to replace the tunnel and support a new crossing. I am disappointed there has been minimal discussion and plans for a public transit component such as a light rail system incorporated in the first stages of the tunnel replacement. A bridge provides easier access and better safety for first responders but I would support any decision to replace the crossing and eliminate the traffic congestion affecting our community.
6. Casino – Delta council’s approval of Gateway’s casino proposal was not without controversy. With construction poised to begin soon, what do you plan to do with casino revenues and what measures do you plan to take to ensure a casino isn’t a negative impact on the community?
I agree with many of our Delta citizens who opposed the casino, that the process of public consultation and council's quick decision to approve the casino was a breach of public trust and rife with conflicts of interest. I would propose that council review and ensure there is no conflict of interests in accepting casino funds while being responsible for policing the facility and ensure there is policy in place to eliminate any conflicts going forward. If this is resolved and we accept the money I will support directing some of these funds towards sports facilities and other amenities needed in our community.