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 independent candidate Vytas Vaitkus 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 am running for Mayor in the upcoming election because some of the current candidates would not get my vote. I bring 25+ years of experience to this role and no fear to ask the tough questions of “why?” and “why not?” I am also running as an independent because I want Delta to create the “slate”; not for my team to create the slant.
2) What in your opinion are the top issues facing the City of Delta and how do you plan to address them?
Housing: Delta’s past development has made many people “house” millionaires, but it is not a sustainable situation. Conscious, proactive planning is needed to create affordable options without sacrificing the backbone of the city. Debt: People with $1-million homes are using athletic facilities built in the 1960s. We need to make scalable improvements to Delta so ridiculous expansion costs are not incurred in the future. Casino: A specific task force made up of Delta councillors and qualified community advocates will be a starting point to keep Delta safe. Enviro-Smart: I would advocate for a community group to monitor Enviro-Smart in respect to air quality.
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?
Neighborhood and area planning needs to be at a much higher level to avoid traffic bottlenecks, insufficient infrastructure and an I-didn’t-see-that-coming approach to development. We also need to secure those for Canadian property owners and not foreign investment assets.
4) What is your stance on cannabis production and retail sales in Delta?
Growing is concern as I don’t completely understand how marijuana is grown in greenhouses or what risks that industry presents to the environment as a whole or the ALR. I am concerned that marijuana grown in the open could be accessible. Selling and the overall consumption management of marijuana is my biggest concern. I agree with the current Delta stance on keeping a lock on private dispensaries in all zones.
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?
This is not a $100M-or-nothing question. I would like to see this: SDSS and NDSS track redo, additional turf fields and a provincial-caliber aquatic centre.
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 see the councillors, in conjunction with the community, determining spending priorities. My job is to remove roadblocks and ensure projects happen in an expedited manner. Casino funds could also help to fund post-secondary schools.
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 don’t really have a huge issue with this; at the end of tenure, a service benefit of some sort makes some sort of sense. What I don’t like about this “golden handshake”’ is how it was handled and presented, or more accurately, how it was leaked.
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?
No brainer — of course! The bridge is one option to overcoming the traffic situation. There are other options, but at some point we have to move past “analysis paralysis.” I would also like to see discussion on a rapid rail to Scott Road via Hwy. 99, a restriction on heavy vehicles during rush hour and electronic surveillance/intervention to distracted driving.
The civic election takes place on Saturday, Oct. 20.