George Harvie during his inaugural council meeting on Nov. 5, 2018. (Grace Kennedy photo)

George Massey Bridge a top priority for new Delta mayor

George Harvie shared some of his priorities for the new council during his inaugural speech

A bridge to replace the George Massey Tunnel is high on the new city council’s to-do list, now that mayor George Harvie and Delta’s six councillors have been officially sworn in.

During his inaugural address Monday night (Nov. 5), Harvie spoke about some of his priorities for his upcoming term — leading with the replacement of the George Massey Tunnel.

“I know we are united as a council on the need for a new bridge to replace the aging George Massey Tunnel,” he said. “I will take bold steps to move this forward, bring enhanced transit to Delta, improve safety, protect our agricultural land and plan for future rapid transit.”

Harvie said he has already reached out to Premier John Horgan, Transportation Minister Claire Trevena and Delta MP Carla Qualtrough about the replacement, as well as recently-elected Metro Vancouver mayors. Harvie said he has requested that Delta have conversations with the federal government about the importance of the crossing in early 2019.

The previous mayor and council were staunch supporters of a planned 10-lane replacement bridge. The project was put on hold in September of last year, as the new provincial government sent it for an independent technical review. However, that didn’t stop the council from continuing to advocate for a bridge, and they discussed the possibility of using federal and third-party funding to build a bridge this past July.

RELATED: Delta could replace Massey Tunnel using federal and third-party funding

Harvie and his Achieving for Delta slate of candidates advocated heavily for a new bridge during the election, and that focus isn’t going away now that he and four of his running-mates have been sworn in.

In his speech, Harvie also reaffirmed other campaign promises, including keeping taxes low and Delta debt-free, developing a housing strategy, transferring school district-owned fields to the city and creating a public safety committee.

At council Monday, all members of the new council were officially sworn in. Jeannie Kanakos and Bruce McDonald, who campaigned with former police chief Jim Cessford’s Independents Working For You slate, are the only two incumbent councillors to be re-elected.

Former Delta Fire chief Dan Copeland, political staffer Dylan Kruger and fifth-generation farmer Alicia Guichon — who all ran with Achieving for Delta — sat in their council seats for the first time on Monday, while Lois Jackson, who also ran with Achieving for Delta, returned to council chamber as a councillor rather than mayor for the first time in 19 years.

The meeting was largely focused on the council members taking their oaths of office, as well as Harvie’s speech. However, there was one other item of business on the agenda.

Harvie, as mayor, was appointed to the Metro Vancouver board of directors, taking over Jackson’s former seat at the table. His alternate will be Copeland.

Jackson will remain on the board, taking Delta’s second Metro Vancouver seat. Her alternate will be Kruger. McDonald had formerly sat on the board, with ex-councillor Robert Campbell as the alternate for both.

Jackson has been a controversial member of the Metro Vancouver board in the past, often disagreeing with other board members on topics such as the George Massey Tunnel replacement project.

RELATED: Metro Vancouver opposes 10-lane Massey Bridge

The inaugural meeting for the Metro Vancouver board of directors will be held on Friday, Nov. 16. The next Delta council meeting will be on Monday, Nov. 19 at the Kennedy Seniors Recreation Centre, 11760 88th Ave., North Delta).

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