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 Independents Working for You candidate Jim Cessford 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?
I want to be mayor because Delta needs a leader who listens to them, respects them, and puts them at the front of every decision. I get a great deal of satisfaction from helping people and being mayor would allow me to advocate and negotiate on behalf of the people I care deeply about.
2) What in your opinion are the top issues facing the City of Delta and how do you plan to address them?
Residents told me public safety is a top issue. Our paramedics, police and firefighters need our support and I will bring our frontline protectors together. We need a second ambulance in South Delta, and I will add a fire squad with an SUV fully equipped for medical emergencies. Transportation is also a major issue. I will increase bus lanes and priority traffic lights. We should re-instate the 601 to Vancouver and improve intercity bus services.
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?
Maintaining the character of our neighbourhoods while providing diverse housing options is a challenge I will take on. As a slate we have proposed initiatives to guide our policy: negotiate with developers to make 15 to 20 per cent of new housing be affordable (rental, co-op, lower priced units), ensure we are front of the line for grants or funding, prioritize senior housing and create independent living options for those with disabilities.
4) What is your stance on cannabis production and retail sales in Delta?
B.C. has effectively handcuffed municipalities in terms of determining their own rules about distribution. We want to see cannabis grown in industrial zones and not on farm land. We will work with partners to ensure this happens. We will protect our communities from odours and we will advocate for pricing/taxation that will see a less crime involving cannabis and the black market.
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?
Infrastructure creation should be informed by a vision for the future. I am committed to making Delta pools accessible to youth. We have two tracks that need upgrading or replacement. We need a facility for tennis, pickleball, handball and squash. Several park upgrades are needed. I would consider using reserve funds, investment and partnerships to pay for these 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?
All city revenue needs to be used to offset costs associated with the casino. We have said any additional funds would enhance senior and youth programs. We can expect additional expenses related to the casino like policing, and addictions and mental health care supports.
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 do not support the “golden handshake.” Any change in compensation should not be backdated. Given the nature of this issue, there should have been an open discussion in front of the community. We need to limit in-camera sessions and make sure transparency is established and maintained.
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?
We need to replace the George Massey Tunnel. My preference is for a bridge. That said, I will do what is best for our community and on the advice of experts. I have already communicated with the province who can help push this through; collaboration and partnerships will get the job done.
The civic election takes place on Saturday, Oct. 20.