Delta North: Strong and Steady

Asian Journal - - British Columbia - Ray Hud­son

The Rid­ing seems to be quite healthy, with it’s strong in­dus­trial base on An­nacis Is­land, a strong com­mer­cial com­po­nent along the Scott Road Cor­ri­dor, and a large res­i­den­tial com­po­nent. The pop­u­la­tion 51,300 is quite di­verse, and in­cludes the largest per­cent­age of peo­ple of South Asian ori­gin, over the other Lib­eral-held rid­ings in the south Fraser. Perched on the western bound­ary of Sur­rey, the com­mu­nity is sta­ble. Ray Hud­son spoke with MLA Scott Hamil­ton, ask­ing about the eco­nomic cli­mate in North Delta.

Scott Hamil­ton: The rid­ing is quite healthy, but it’s how you man­age the growth in Delta that is im­por­tant. Peo­ple I talk to are more con­cerned with get­ting home from work, not sit­ting in traf­fic, that’s a big is­sue. Once home from work they con­cern them­selves with get­ting their kids to the hockey rink, soc­cer pitch, the soft­ball field or the bal­let class. We truly are a bed­room com­mu­nity in ev­ery sense of the word, but we have to man­age our­selves next to the gi­ants just on the north side of the river, and the east side of Scott Road. In hous­ing, we are see­ing af­ford­abil­ity is­sues aris­ing in the com­mu­nity, and peo­ple are talk­ing to me about the cost of hous­ing. It is spilling into North Delta now, as it is start­ing to be­come ‘dis­cov­ered.’ It’s funny, as I was talk­ing about man­ag­ing growth, my youngest daugh­ter works for a com­pany called Fifth Av­enue Homes, “spe­cial­iz­ing in De­signer Homes for young fam­i­lies.” say­ing that she was think­ing about get­ting into the mar­ket by buy­ing a town­house. She came right out and asked me if my govern­ment was go­ing to im­pact the mar­ket at all, be­cause she didn’t want to find her­self in that un­en­vi­able po­si­tion of own­ing an as­set that’s worth less than what she paid for it. We cer­tainly re­call the eight­ies when peo­ple were walk­ing away from their homes, so that’s an­other in­ter­est­ing per­spec­tive. One can end up mess­ing with the mar­ket just by say­ing the wrong word, so we have to be care­ful how we man­age that. Delta is go­ing through a lot of in-fill growth, which is a lo­cal is­sue and doesn’t di­rectly af­fect the Pro­vin­cial govern­ment. But I hear about it a lot, and it does speak to the strength of the econ­omy in the whole area. There’s not a lot of new growth where it didn’t ex­ist be­fore.

Ray Hud­son: There seems to be much more traf­fic on the roads around the rid­ing.

Scott Hamil­ton: One of the big is­sues that’s come up in re­cent weeks con­cerns the traf­fic is­sues on An­nacis Is­land. There has been a con­sid­er­able in­flux of more ‘rat-run­ners’ try­ing to find a short­cut around the lines ap­proach­ing the Alex Fraser bridge dur­ing the af­ter­noon rush hour. And traf­fic is like wa­ter, it will seek the path of least re­sis­tance. If peo­ple can shave five min­utes off their com­mute by cut­ting around a few cor­ners, and mak­ing the odd il­le­gal left-hand turn, they’re go­ing to do it. I’ve been in­volved with the Cor­po­ra­tion of Delta in try­ing to deal with the is­sue by en­gag­ing the Min­istry of Trans­porta­tion and we’re still ex­plor­ing our op­tions for op­por­tu­ni­ties to try and get traf­fic flow­ing bet­ter. It’s ad­versely af­fect­ing the peo­ple that work on the is­land. Also with trans­porta­tion, I’ve been work­ing on the Ge­orge Massey Tun­nel re­place­ment. The fed­eral bud­get is com­ing down in a week, and we’re keep­ing our fin­gers crossed. I know that the ap­pro­pri­ate coun­ter­parts in the trans­porta­tion min­istries in Ottawa and Vic­to­ria have been talk­ing. The Min­is­ter of Trans­porta­tion has been keenly in­volved in the pro­ject as it has gone for­ward and has made some pretty sig­nif­i­cant an­nounce­ments. I know there are still some de­trac­tors but the new cross­ing rep­re­sents a vi­tal key com­po­nent of the trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture for the re­gion. I’ve also got a mayor (in Delta) who’s lined up against just about ev­ery other mayor in the re­gion, in her sup­port for this bridge, and I’ve had her over to Vic­to­ria to meet with the Trans­porta­tion staff, and re­it­er­at­ing her sup­port. The tun­nel is al­most sixty years old and it’s past its best-be­fore date. There are a lot of is­sues as­so­ci­ated with a bridge, but it’s the best op­tion. Ray Hud­son: That raises the is­sue of Road Pric­ing.

Scott Hamil­ton: We have to talk about tolling, of course, in the con­text of re­gional pric­ing, and the only fair way to go. When you wind up with a new Pat­tullo and the tun­nel re­place­ment, the Alex Fraser bridge, which is at ca­pac­ity now, be­comes the only Fraser cross­ing that isn’t tolled. My dad had an ex­pres­sion about try­ing to shove ten pounds of meat into a five-pound bag, and I find that kind of ap­pro­pri­ate in this case.

Ray Hud­son: For the peo­ple on the north side, that dol­lar doesn’t go very far to­ward main­tain­ing their bridges ei­ther.

Scott Hamil­ton: Pre­cisely. I find that liv­ing south of the Fraser River, peo­ple have more need to travel to the north, than peo­ple liv­ing north have to come to the south, so I re­ally don’t see a down­side to re­gional tolling. But it’s all up for dis­cus­sion and we’re go­ing to be tak­ing the col­lec­tive tem­per­a­ture of ev­ery­one and mak­ing a yes or no de­ci­sion on re­gional pric­ing, as well as all our tolling op­tions as we go for­ward.

Ray Hud­son: What about the over­pass to re­move the light at the 72nd in­ter­sec­tion. Last year you out­lined the cost-shar­ing pro­gram of $30 mil­lion to re­con­fig­ure the in­ter­sec­tion and lose the light. What’s go­ing on with that pro­ject?

Scott Hamil­ton: MK Delta Lands floated a pro­posal for the land they bought at the foot of 72nd on the south­east cor­ner with high­way 91. $20 mil­lion was al­ready on the ta­ble from the prov­ince and the feds, plus $10 mil­lion from the MK Delta Lands pro­ject. Delta coun­cil chose, in dis­cus­sion with the de­vel­oper, some time ago, to put that pro­ject on hold. We’ve had a fed­eral elec­tion since then and that $10 mil­lion has dis­ap­peared. MK Delta Lands has moved it’s pro­ject north to River Road and South Fraser Perime­ter Road to land they own there. The new plan is for the land to be de­vel­oped for ware­hous­ing and lo­gis­tics use, and they would wind up gift­ing the prop­erty at 72nd to Delta to form part of the Burns Bog Con­ser­va­tory. So that’s where the money went. It doesn’t mean I don’t con­tinue to talk to peo­ple about the in­ter­sec­tion, but it will be tougher to do now with the way things have rolled out.

Ray Hud­son: Delta Hos­pi­tal still seems to be the lit­tle hos­pi­tal that could. What has been go­ing on there?

Scott Hamil­ton: Hospi­tals are re­gional fa­cil­i­ties and you need to put your money where you‘ll get the most bang for the buck. There’s been a huge in­vest­ment in the Delta Hos­pi­tal by the El­iz­a­beth and Peter Toigo fam­ily, as they ac­quired the nam­ing rights to the new lab­o­ra­tory fa­cil­ity, which will be a cen­tre of ex­cel­lence for lab­o­ra­tory work. I also think they’re get­ting a new build­ing to house their CT Scan­ner. The hos­pi­tal to me is a lot more now than it was in 2001, be­fore it was threat­ened to be closed. I’ve also been deal­ing with some groups, con­cerned about acute care, and I’m pleased that I was suc­cess­ful in get­ting the ex­ten­sion in the hours and help­ing them get the ob­ser­va­tion beds they wanted so they could per­form mi­nor surgery af­ter hours, and if nec­es­sary keep some­one overnight rather than send­ing them to Rich­mond. There’s also the dis­cus­sion that we must have when it comes to hos­pi­tal care for long-term care. In terms of us­ing money to the best ad­van­tage if we put money into long-term care, we can have four sub­si­dized beds at $200 to $300 a day in a long term care fa­cil­ity like Deltaview Pri­vate hos­pi­tal. The pa­tient will likely get bet­ter, more and bet­ter spe­cial­ized care, and for the price of one acute care bed at $1,500 per day. We’re al­ways try­ing to find the right bal­ance, but not­with­stand­ing the lim­ited num­ber of dol­lars that we have, we’ve in­jected more money into health care in the last few years. At 42% of our pro­vin­cial bud­get, it’s record-set­ting, and it’s mas­sive.

Photo: Ray Hud­son

Scott Hamil­ton, MLA Delta North

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