The Optimist posed 10 questions to the candidates running to be Delta’s next mayor. You’ll find the questions and the candidates’ responses below, but you won’t know which candidate provided which response. We ask you to read the responses for each question and choose the one that best reflects your views on each topic. At the end of the quiz you’ll find out who you agree with most often.

1. 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?

Conscious, proactive planning in respect to development and neighbourhood change needs to be front-and-centre in order to create affordable options without sacrificing the backbone of the city. We have seen subdivision and some well thought out higher-density community developments (condos and townhouses) without having to encroach on ALR.

Each neighbourhoods have the same concern and worries, they do not want to look over their shoulder. I understand that, so let’s not make the same mistakes as Surrey, Vancouver. Without working together in finding something both city and neighbourhoods can agree on. It is easy making a choice and saying that is how it is going to be. Or we can make and understand the change together so everything can be heard and seen.

Delta’s distinct neighbourhoods are the strong social fabric of our community. We absolutely need to protect the character of them -- and I am the only candidate for mayor in this race with a plan that will honour that while also adding much-needed housing options for young families, seniors, and those who need help. By working collaboratively with local builders, I will identify opportunities for housing development in town centres, where new residents will be situated in close proximity to local shops and restaurants, helping Delta businesses to thrive.

Unfortunately "affordable" housing is often times outside the municipal jurisdiction. The new mortgage rules have done more to damage qualifying for even a small mortgage. What is the definition of affordable? Government subsidized? Or do we need to think outside the box and look at more affordable education and a continued trade program in schools? Then people would earn more and the "affordability" would change. As to existing neighbourhoods, we need to look at the permits. Neighbourhoods are only destroyed with council approval.

I announced in early September our ‘Action Plan’ for Affordable Housing and Rental Accommodation. We pledged to hold, within 100 days of winning election to council, a Housing Summit that would include economists, academics, community and housing activists, developers, leading Delta residents and others, to explore and identify policies that will improve the municipality’s stock of affordable housing and rental accommodation.

We will work to develop a strategic Housing Action Plan with particular attention to density along the Scott Road corridor. Make use of federal and provincial grant and funding programs. We will negotiate with developers to make 15 per cent of units available for rental, cooperative or subsidized housing. We will work within the Official Community Plans and we will conduct a review of Bylaw 7600 with authentic community consultation, and make necessary changes.



2. 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?

I have to say I do like some ideas of Mayor Lois Jackson has suggested, like they should be more in industrial buildings. I have concerns on where it will be sold. I would like to see stores closer together so it is easier protecting and serving the public better. Having them spread throughout the town is unsafe and it is forcing people to smoke and drive.

Yes, I am concerned about the production and retail sale of cannabis in the City of Delta. I do not support the retail sale of recreational cannabis in local stores, nor do I believe that cannabis should replace soil-based food crops on valuable farmland, even if some farmers embrace the new cash crop. I believe that we first need to be able to feed ourselves. I do support cannabis production in industrial areas, but insist that they must be in enclosed buildings with bio-filters to mitigate odours.

Yes I do not believe we have had enough public consultation, leaving many residents anxious around the issue of legalization. Realtors have also raised concerns with regard to the new laws governing growing at home. We need to develop a plan to manage issues relating to growing and distribution. I believe cannabis should be grown in industrial areas and not on agricultural lands. The odour needs to be managed. Sales will have to be restricted to certain areas, away from schools or any area where youth frequent.

To be clear, the provincial and federal governments control where it can be grown. One of my concerns is that Delta is at the receiving end of a poor decision made by the provincial government and Agricultural Land Commission, who ruled that marijuana growth on ALR land is a legal use of the property. I do not support this decision. I believe that ALR should be used solely for its intended use: food production.

I don’t completely understand how marijuana is grown in greenhouses or what risks that industry presents to migratory birds, the environment as a whole or taking advantage of current ALR zoning. Growing marijuana is different than selling marijuana. I agree with the current Delta stance on keeping a lock on private dispensaries in all zones.

I have huge concerns where it is grown, but if Delta chooses to grow it, they should choose to sell it. The citizens should get a say in this. It seems a little late as growing has already been permitted.



3. Municipal debt – A no new borrowing policy instituted almost two decades ago has eliminated Delta’s debt. Will you continue this policy or do you see the need to borrow to undertake certain capital projects?

Debt management program has worked at the cost of our infrastructure, which has deteriorated. We will need to spend money to upgrade, maintain or replace failing infrastructure. We will require the agreement of the community to undertake some of these projects and it may be necessary to hold a referendum to obtain approval for borrowing.

We need to pick and choose where things need to happen today to make sure the community sees that their government is hearing them and doing something more than trying to stay on the payroll. We also need to make scalable improvements to Delta so that ridiculous expansion costs are not incurred in the future. If some borrowing is needed, then it is needed.

As the only candidate running on a platform to keep Delta debt-free, I will continue our pay-as-you-go program. I’ve yet to see a situation where we’d have to borrow. By targeting a project for completion over a three-year period, we will ensure that the city has funding in place without needing to borrow.

I will continue our city’s no new debt policy. Our city’s elected mayor and council have worked exceptionally hard over many, many years to ensure the elimination of Delta’s debt – an accomplishment for which an un-elected, retired city bureaucrat now claims credit. I have announced two specific initiatives to impact our city’s financial health and well-being.

Absolutely! Beth Johnson actually started the road to fiscal accountability before our present regime. There are so many areas to cut spending that wouldn't even be noticed, including the "golden handshake" for existing council members and mayor. Boom, almost half a million we found!

If we are debt free, then why do we have homelessness in Delta? If we are debt free, then why are property taxes still going up? Let’s look at the books closer. In my own life I say if I cannot afford it, I do not get it. We will stay within our means.



4. Recreation facilities – Delta has an ever-growing wish list of parks and recreation projects that is well in excess of $100 million. Do you have any projects you see as priorities and how do you intend to pay for them?

The last question said that Delta is debt free, so we must have money within local government to support projects to better our parks for the children and adults. The income of Delta is quite clear, the old council has allocated money to specific areas. And understand what they have done and seeing what is left over so we can put it to good use.

Delta’s young athletes deserve to train and play on world-class facilities. I will prioritize the expansion of our playing fields and ensure that we move forward on updating our tracks in my first year of office, with North Delta Secondary being a key priority. I will also ensure that the South Delta Secondary track is completed as soon as possible.

Winskill Recreation Centre is in need of upgrading. We have two tracks that need upgrading or replacement and we need to partner with the school district and other levels of government to complete the work. We require a facility for racquet sports, including tennis, pickleball, handball, squash and others. Several park upgrades are necessary. I would consider using reserve funds, intelligent investment and partnerships to pay for these projects.

With careful fiscal management, we can pay for new or improved parks and recreation projects from current revenues. At present the City of Delta has many parks and recreational facilities of which we all can be proud – notably Watershed Park, the North 40 and the North Delta Recreation Centre, plus the North Delta Arts Centre which currently is under construction.

This is not a $100 million or nothing question. It definitely seems to be considering how our current government approaches this subject. We need a plan to improve and a plan to do – not a plan to wait. I would like to see an immediate SDSS track redo. Then additional turf fields and a provincial caliber aquatic centre. Park and recreational enhancements are vital to this growing community.

I intend to do an overview of Delta's wish list. Then we prioritize within the budget. Then we do not overrun the budget like North Delta! Delta has a property tax to pay for Sungod, yet no discounts for Delta residents. How is that remotely fair?



5. End of service benefit – Early last year Delta council unanimously approved an end of service benefit for civic politicians. Do you agree with the idea of a golden handshake and do you believe it should be backdated for 12 years?

One of the key reasons I’m running for mayor is that I don’t agree with the golden handshake. As mayor, I’ll be taking swift action to put a stop to it. I’ve always believed that elected officials should run for the sole purpose of making a difference in their community – not on a desire to continue collecting a cheque from the citizens of Delta. That’s why one of my first actions as mayor will be to request that council rescind the bylaw and ask the Union of BC Municipalities to introduce standards for all cities.

This issue should have been discussed in an open forum so the public could have observed the discussion. I believe that a thorough review and public consultation is necessary to determine what the proper remuneration should be.

I do not agree with it. When I am mayor, you get what you get and you’re on your own for the rest. I know what I am getting myself into and do not expect anything extra from the community. If everyone got a golden handshake like that, sure, but otherwise not a chance.

While I believe the new policy was well-intentioned, it was not appropriate for council to vote in favour of a financial benefit that would accrue to current councillors. Nor was it appropriate to allow former CAO George Harvie to submit the proposal to council without first seeking public input. If I am elected mayor, I will ensure council revisits this policy and consults with the public before any new financial benefit for elected officials is considered.

Absolutely not. It should be abolished immediately.

I don’t really have an issue with this. I intend on busting my butt and making sacrifices to make sure that Delta is better. I won’t get a pension but I certainly have acquired this in the public sector. At the end of tenure, a service benefit makes sense.



6. 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?

Our administration will advocate for a bridge, an extensive engineering assessment has been conducted. The results of their assessment need to be verified and the safest and most cost effective approach should be used.

When there are two sides of the river, it does not matter on just what we want. Ten lanes going where back into three. We are trying to solve one problem by sending the bottleneck to another location. I will do what the community wants. I am for a tunnel, not a bridge. In the end, we choose as a community.

Unlike the other candidates for mayor, I have a very specific opinion on this: Delta residents deserve a safer, more efficient commute. We need to move forward with the bridge. The project as it is proposed today is shovel-ready. It has been studied since 2012. Delta can’t wait for yet another period of consultation.

No brainer – of course! The bridge is one thing, and one option to overcoming the traffic situation from Delta, from Surrey and from White Rock. There are some other options and I don’t have the raw assessment data to say one is better than another but at some point we have to move past analysis paralysis and get going.

Only the provincial government has the financial resources to pay for a new Fraser River crossing, whether a new bridge, an expanded tunnel or a different option. So while the province has the financial resources, the City of Delta must work in partnership with Victoria to ensure the best decision is made. My preferred option – because it leaves a smaller footprint on agricultural land – is a new bridge.

I support a widened tunnel as it seems Delta residents continually spoke out for at the public forums. I would put out a clear survey and get a public opinion poll.



7. 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 am the only candidate with a plan to invest casino revenues back into Delta while leading an effort to stop money laundering should the project receive final approval by the province. My action plan will see revenues invested back into Delta in the form of vital local programs and addictions services. I’ve met with families experiencing mental health and addictions challenges in our community and have heard that many of them feel alone in getting help. That has to change.

The City of Delta is forecast to receive up to $3 million annually – and possibly more – in gaming transfers once the new hotel-casino project is in full operation. I will dedicate a portion of Delta’s gaming revenues to improving the health services available to local residents, and especially for those unable to find their own family doctor.

I am quite shocked that the premier and the attorney general are letting it still go through when they do not even understand who is to blame. That makes me feel so much better. I do not want to see it at this time to go through. The last council made a big mistake. I will, if I could, put it on hold. I have too many questions which I believe have not been addressed.

The casino is not a go. The first year projections are only $1.5 million, not taking into account the $750 million tax break. Delta has also offered a "frozen" property tax for five years. Completion isn't actually due for two years if it does go. Doing the real math Delta will not see a positive cash flow for probably four years. Also the cash flow is completely guesswork. Casinos are to government like crack is to an addict.

Casino revenues should be set aside and utilized for specific purposes (i.e. seniors programs, youth programs and recreation facilities). These monies should not be placed into general revenue. We will work very closely with BCLC, the police and other agencies to ensure the casino is being managed in a professional manner and will not cause any negative impact on the community.

How Delta handles it will determine if it is a positive enterprise or a bane to Deltans. With the casino being in Delta, Deltans have a ton more input to making this a successful undertaking. Gambling has the mystique of laundering, exploitation, addiction and take-versus-give. Delta, like we will have to do with the introduction of marijuana, will need to be proactive and show the strength to never waiver from doing the right thing.



8. Property taxes – Two recent studies have Delta near the top of Lower Mainland municipalities in terms of local government spending on a per capita basis. Do you believe Delta property owners are overtaxed or do you think they get good value for their tax dollars?

Absolutely overtaxed. The last increase was a merely under three per cent. This, however, did not take into account the 30 per cent and up increase in property values. Total money grab.

I do believe very strongly that the people in Delta that own are overtaxed. As a renter living in Delta I do not see the value for your buck. A few question back said that Delta is debt free so why are property taxes so high? I believe we need to lower property taxes just enough to feel the relief because other levels of government are milking us dry.

We should be working to keep our taxes down. Currently our taxes are at mid-range in the Metro Vancouver area. A large portion of our taxes contribute to our emergency services and as a result we have one of the safest communities in the province. I believe that we should also be utilizing our tax money to pay for parks and other amenities.

When compared to neighbours, Delta may have opportunities to be more efficient with spending and we can learn from others. Safety is very important. Our civil servants – police and fire -- are awesome. Delta has a fair bit of geography to take care of but not a huge population to contribute to the amenities. Doing nothing is not an option but doing something smarter is the best course of strategy.

I do not believe that Delta property owners are overtaxed and I believe all Delta residents get good value for our tax dollars. We have a lot of services to provide to local residents who are spread over a very large area – which adds to our local operating costs.

The City of Delta is clearly doing something right: rated 53rd out of 415 cities, we are considered one of the top Canadian cities to live in by MoneySense. Receiving incredible value for their tax dollars, Delta taxpayers face the lowest tax increases in the Lower Mainland while enjoying some of the country’s finest facilities, programs and public safety services.



9. Enviro-Smart -- The stench from the composting facility in East Ladner continues to infuriate neighbours. Do you feel the air quality permit issued by Metro Vancouver will sufficiently address the situation and do you believe such an operation should be located on farmland?

There are two issues regarding the Enviro-Smart facility. First, the stench emanating from the composting operation is unacceptable. There can be no doubt that East Ladner residents have been negatively impacted by the composting facility’s awful odours. The City of Delta must continue to work with GFL, Enviro-Smart’s owners, as they construct a fully-enclosed building and install state-of-the-art bio-filters.

The permit has failed to address the problem. Delta council has discussed this for over 11 years and obviously failed. Yes, it needs to be addressed and solved, not continually tabled. Richmond's facility simply left but at what cost to remove our compost? I believe there are Enviro-Smart solutions that haven't been explored.

This is an important issue that has impacted East Ladner residents for far too long. I am the only mayoral candidate in this race to come forward with a plan to fix this problem by saying enough is enough: we need to get the enclosure done now. I continue to be resolute in my position that we need to completely overhaul Metro Vancouver’s air quality regulations because I can’t support a large company turning Delta into a major dumpsite without regard for our wellbeing.

Delta leadership has dropped the ball on this issue since 1995. Delta needs a relook at this and must push the envelope of bureaucratic process. No one needs to lose another summer. I would advocate for a community group to watchdog how Enviro-Smart is doing in respect to air quality – at one, two and three kilometres from smell central.

The permit is not good enough, and it will not address the problem. It only shows one side is being heard more than the others. This problem is not a new one; it has been present for many years. Yes, I do think it should be located on farmlands in an open area.

This is a serious community problem. I do not believe the air quality permit is going to address the situation. I do not support industrial composting on agricultural lands and every effort should be made to remove this facility from its current location. We must work with Metro Vancouver and the province to fully address this problem.



10. Farmland speculation -- More than 1,200 citizens have signed a petition stating their opposition to the possibility that a piece of farmland in central Tsawwassen could become home to a greenhouse or even residential development. What steps can be taken to ensure land speculation doesn’t negatively impact residents?

I’ve door knocked on every home in that community, and my commitment to them has been that the first thing I will do as mayor will be to instruct staff to prepare an application by the city to include this land in the Agricultural Land Reserve to immediately end the issue of speculation. Insofar as greenhouses, I will work with the province on giving Delta the authority to put in a bylaw to ensure this property is saved for soil-based agriculture.

no response

I will make every effort to preserve farmlands in Delta. I will also work to ensure the residential communities around the farmland are also protected. This particular piece of farmland must be kept within the A1 land use designation to enable the city to manage the land appropriately.

It will. It has in every instance. How about simply preserving farmland?

I believes our city is unique in British Columbia largely because of our precious farmland and our dynamic farming families. I will fight to protect our agricultural interests. The City of Delta’s Agricultural Plan needs to be reviewed and updated in consultation with farmers and other agricultural interests, and I will work for land-swaps to ensure there is no net loss of farmland through development.

I am all for the following based on recent precedents: The committee notes the need for immediate legislative and regulatory change is focused on four targeted areas: protecting the ALR land base into the future; preserving the productive capacity of the ALR; improving governance of the ALR; and supporting farmers and ranchers in the ALR.



Results:

The below chart represents the candidates in which you agreed with their answers:

 


Sylvia Bishop : 

 


Jim Cessford :  

 


George Harvie : 

 


Moneca Kolvyn : 

 


Alex Megalos :  

 


Vytas Vaitkus : 
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