Opinion: Delta far from complete

It’s a laudable goal but one that’s been difficult to reach.

Thirty-plus years ago when Delta adopted its Official Community Plan, the document contained a number of overarching objectives to guide development, foremost among them a desire to create a livable and complete community. Under the “Complete” heading, the OCP states: “Delta will be a community in which people of all ages, family structures, backgrounds and interests can live, work and play.” It goes on to touch on the need to provide a diverse range of housing choices in order to create a complete community.

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Fast-forward to today and despite those admirable intentions, it’s pretty clear Delta lacks that desired completeness that was envisioned back in 1986. The idea of people of all ages and family structures living here has undoubtedly been compromised by the combination of a lack of housing choices and an out-of-this-world real estate market.

Twenty-five years after the OCP was adopted, single-family homes and duplexes still made up of 80 per cent of Delta’s housing stock. It’s likely a tiny bit better since those 2011 statistics, but when a community is single-family centric, and those homes typically go for $1 million or more, it’s not hard to see how certain segments of the population get excluded.

According to those 2011 figures, more than 50 per cent of Delta’s housing inventory was built in the 1960s and ’70s, a time when an average paycheque could carry the mortgage on an average Delta home. That’s not even close to being the case anymore, yet the city’s housing stock hasn’t materially changed to reflect this new reality.

I realize that a shift toward more affordable multi-family units would mean a change in character of certain neighbourhoods, a move that’s definitely not taken lightly in these parts, but not to do so means turning your back on the goal of creating a complete community that welcomes people of all ages and income levels.

We have to decide, and let our political leaders know, whether the aims of the Official Community Plan should be upheld or whether we consider them more like New Year’s resolutions. You know, well-intentioned thoughts that end up just being too darn difficult to implement.

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