The North Delta Reporter sent mayor candidates 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 Achieving for Delta candidate George Harvie 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 mayor?
When I started as Delta’s city manager in 2001, we were $60-million in debt. Today, Delta is debt-free. We achieved this while keeping taxes low and investing over $50-million in new recreation and safety facilities, and road upgrades. But there’s more work to be done – and I am running for mayor because there are things I want to achieve for this city that I couldn’t do as city manager.
2) What in your opinion are the top issues facing the City of Delta and how do you plan to address them?
As mayor, I want to bring fairness to North Delta by bringing every other council and school board meeting to North Delta. I want to provide diverse housing options for seniors and young families. I want to continue to adequately fund our police and fire departments. And I want to move our community forward by a fighting for the George Massey Bridge.
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?
We need to protect Delta’s distinct neighbourhoods, while adding housing options for young families, seniors and those in need. By working with local builders, I will identify opportunities for development in town centres, where residents will be close to shops and restaurants. I will also work with agencies such as Metro Vancouver Housing.
4) What is your stance on cannabis production and retail sales in Delta?
I do not support the ALC’s decision that marijuana growth on ALR land is a legal use. I believe the ALR should be used solely for food production. My major concern with retail is ensuring legalization doesn’t impact the health and safety of youth. I will fight to ensure retail stores are not by schools, and will protect all residents from second-hand smoke.
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?
Delta’s athletes deserve to train and play on world-class facilities. I will prioritize playing field expansions and ensure we move forward on updating tracks in my first year of office, with NDSS as a key priority. I will do this affordably by working with an Achieving for Delta school board, who pledged to ask the city to take over the fields.
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?
I’ve met with families experiencing mental health and addiction challenges and heard many feel alone in getting help. That has to change. My plan will see revenue from B.C.’s gaming host community grant invested into local programs and addiction services. I will also work to keep dirty money out of all B.C. casinos. I will present a motion requesting the Attorney General work with UBCM to implement cashless casinos.
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?
One of the key reasons I’m running for mayor is that I don’t agree with the golden handshake. As city manager, it was a policy I took great exception to – and as mayor, I’ll be taking swift action to put a stop to it.
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?
Delta residents deserve a safer, more efficient commute. A new bridge is the best option to relieve one of the worst highway bottlenecks in Canada and protect Delta’s agricultural land. It will also improve emergency response times and reduce vehicle collisions by 35 per cent.
The civic election takes place on Saturday, Oct. 20.