Delta’s social profile identify’s critical need for services

The comprehensive 60-page report examines services for as health, public safety, children and youth, seniors, housing, and inclusion.

Deltassist is one of 131 organizations examined in Delta's new social profile.

Deltassist is one of 131 organizations examined in Delta's new social profile.

There is a critical need in Delta for youth services, housing and awareness of seniors’ issues, according to a report by municipal staff.

The comprehensive 60-page report, unveiled at this week’s municipal council meeting, is the first step in the municipality’s effort to integrate social planning into Delta’s policy and decision making. It examines 131 different organizations (about 100 of which are located in Delta) serving residents in areas such as health, public safety, children and youth, seniors, housing, and inclusion.

In her presentation to council, Delta’s corporate social planner, Gillian McLeod, identified three critical services Delta lacks: services for youth with concurrent disorders, housing for all residential groups and awareness about the issues faced by seniors.

McLeod often went out into the community to talk to residents and agencies while she was creating the report and found she was constantly challenging her assumptions about what Delta needed. For example, she said, people tend to assume newcomers are only in North Delta, but many also land in Tsawwassen and Ladner.

“I raised my children here in Ladner, and we have these subtle assumptions about where needs are,” McLeod said. “Everywhere I went, I found out [that] everything exists everywhere. The numbers might not be the same – they might be larger in some areas – but that doesn’t mean you don’t provide services.”

She also identified areas where Delta is succeeding, such as personal and public safety, courtesy of the Delta fire and police departments.

“I think maybe in a Canadian way we’re not that good at celebrating our successes, and I want to be able to share [those achievements],” McLeod said, adding the social profile will remain as a “living document” to give residents, MLAs, ministers and Metro Vancouver staff a continually updated look at what is available in Delta.

With the profile complete, the next step for McLeod is to develop a “social action plan” outlining what issues the Corporation of Delta should take on, as well as what they should be advocating and what they should leave to external agencies.

McLeod’s report and presentation to council stressed that it’s not the Corporation’s responsibility to spearhead, or even fund, many of these services. It did, however, note the prevailing feeling that Delta should advocate for these services and help coordinate with the needs of the community.

“It is our role as council to consider the social side of the community and what is at the heart of the kind of community we are trying to create,” councillor Jeannie Kanakos said. “So I hope the next step will move towards developing…the vision of where we’re heading.”