The North Delta Reporter sent candidates for councillor a list of eight questions to gauge their positions on some of the major issues in the 2018 civic election campaign. We gave candidates a limit of 400 words total to answer. Here’s what Team Delta candidate Simran Walia had to say:
(Note, all candidates’ answers have been edited for length, clarity and to conform with Canadian Press style, as required.)
1) Why are you running for council?
I am an active volunteer, serving on two Delta committees: parks, recreation and culture, and seniors advisory. Running for office is an extension to the service I do. I have come across so many areas of improvements where new leadership and ideas is needed. I want to serve using my experience, and skill set and solution-based approach.
2) What in your opinion are the top issues facing the City of Delta and how do you plan to address them?
There are many issues that need to be addressed like housing crunch, poor transit, lack of infrastructure to support the growth rate, few local jobs, conservation of wildlife, raising the dikes, poor condition of parks and recreation facilities, poor track and field tracks, lack of sidewalks in many residential areas and many more. Proper analysis and collaboration with the public is a must and we need to analyze each issue from every perspective before making an informed decision.
3) What is your plan for addressing the need for affordable and rental housing in Delta, especially as it relates to medium- and high-density developments/highrises in North Delta?
Housing crisis is real in Delta and we need to address it. Within 100 days of getting elected, Team Delta and I are committed to have a housing summit to come up with a “Made in Delta” solution to address housing issues. Various housing options need to be present to cater to residents with special needs, seniors, young families with single parents, low-income families and everybody else.
4) What is your stance on cannabis production and retail sales in Delta?
I am not in favor of having cannabis retail stores in Delta. Greenhouses are permitted use of ALR land. Regulations need to be in place to make sure residents are not affected by the production of cannabis in those greenhouses.
5) A number of Delta’s recreation facilities are in need of upgrading or replacement. Which projects do you think are important to tackle first, and where will you find the money to pay for them?
The recreation facilities that need immediate repair should be dealt with based on it’s urgency and extent of damage. The casino revenues should be used to pay for much-needed necessary services. In the meantime, City of Delta is running on a surplus which can fund urgent projects.
6) A new Casino will soon be built at the site of the Delta Town & Country Inn, bringing the city an estimated $1.5 million and $3 million in revenue. How do you think that money should best be spent, and how do you plan to mitigate the casino’s impact on the community?
Serving as parks, recreation and culture commissioner, what I learned is that we have almost $50 million worth of unfunded projects. Casino revenues should be used to fund those long-pending projects, build sidewalks and other necessary projects in need of funding.
7) Last year mayor and council voted to give outgoing elected officials a “Council Service Benefit” (commonly referred to as a “golden handshake”) to compensate them for not being eligible to join the city’s pension plan. Do you support this end-of-service benefit and do you agree with the decision to backdate it 12 years?
I completely disagree with “golden handshake.” It should not have been passed without public consultation because it is taxpayer’s money. I will put forward a motion to scrap this.
8) The previous mayor and council advocated for a 10-lane bridge to replace the aging tunnel George Massey Tunnel. That is your preferred replacement option (or do you think it even needs replacing), and why?
I travel to Richmond every day. Hwy. 99 connects different cities and people use it daily to earn their living as well it move goods. The tunnel expansion option takes away the farmland that surrounds it whereas the bridge option does not. Bridge will also reduce idling which is key towards being environmentally friendly.
The civic election takes place on Saturday, Oct. 20.