Delta asking for voters’ input on plan to officially become a city

Municipality is using the alternative approval process, meaning voters only cast a ballot if they are against the proposed name change.

Delta asking for voters' input on plan to officially become a city

Delta is moving forward with plans to be officially recognized as a city.

Starting this month, the Corporation of Delta will begin seeking voter approval to change its classification from a district municipality to a city. The municipality will be using an alternative approval process to gauge public support, meaning only those opposed to the plan need cast a ballot before the March 31 deadline.

Delta was founded in 1879 as a district municipality and given its current name based on its population density and geographic size at the time. Although all municipalities in B.C. are legally corporations, Delta is the only one that uses that moniker.

According to a report to council, the use of the word corporation has led to challenges when dealing with other organizations. It specifically mentions how a recent delegation to Rotterdam, Netherlands ran into issues when officials from the host city “mistakenly assumed the Corporation of Delta was a private business and had difficulty comprehending Delta as a local government.”

The report goes on to say that the name change would “also supports the promotion of Delta’s identity as a vibrant city and community rather than a corporation. Cities are more recognizable for businesses and individuals looking to relocate and it is anticipated that a city name change for Delta will help towards elevating our profile.”

The hope is to have the name-change process complete this year in order to have it correspond with Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations. If voter approval is obtained through the alternative approval process, then Delta could become the City of Delta in time for summer.

Maple Ridge and West Kelowna both recently made the switch from district municipalities to cities. In each case, the cost was minimized by using the alternative approval process (as opposed to a referendum) and by replacing things like stationery and business cards with updated stock as supplies run out.

Both cities cited their reclassification costs at $3,000, and Delta anticipates following suit to the tune of $5,000.

In its bid to become a city, Delta cited the 2011 census, which says the municipality has a population of approximately 98,663 and population density of 5.5 persons per hectare, well above the 5,000-person threshold needed to become a city. Those figures rose to 102,238 and more than 5.6 persons per hectare when results from the 2106 census were released on Feb. 8.

According to Elections BC, there are 69,928 registered voters in Delta, based on the last general election in May 2013. To prevent council from moving forward with the name change, 10 per cent, or 6,993 voters, must submit their signed elector response forms by 4 p.m. on March 31.

If that happens, council would need to hold a full-fledged referendum before Delta could change its name.

Anyone looking to cast a vote against Delta’s reclassification as a city can fill out an elector response form on Delta’s website or by request at Delta Municipal Hall, North Delta Recreation Centre, Sungod Recreation Centre, South Delta Recreation Centre and Ladner Leisure Centre.