COLUMN: Santa grant me three wishes for 2018

Columnist ML Burke lays out her hopes for the year to come

(File photo)

Politically, I must say, 2017 has been both enlightening and exhausting. I’m okay with Justin Trudeau so far, except for his support of the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Provincially, I was thrilled when the Greens tipped the scales just enough for the NDP to end the Liberals’ reign of power. As for our U.S. neighbours, I am stunned with what is unfolding in this fading democracy led by a false and dangerous president. His downfall cannot come soon enough, but come it must.

On our local front, I have three wishes for the City of Delta in 2018. (Note: I would have preferred “Townships of Delta,” but they thought otherwise.) Considering 2018 is an election year for Delta, these three wishes are inter-related and important to our quality of life here south of the Fraser.

In reverse order of priority, fighting isolation, especially for single seniors, is a growing concern. I am lucky to have a little dog who is my trusted companion and confident. His name is Oliver Twist and he weighs 10 pounds. (My purse weighs twice that.) Ollie loves other small dogs, but is understandably afraid of big ones. What Ollie and I wish for in 2018 is a fenced area in an existing dog park for small dogs only (under 25 lbs) where they can safely play unleashed. Any political contender who champions this initiative will get my vote.

A bigger issue is TransLink services south of the Fraser to and from Vancouver. This is not about the bridge versus tunnel because a new crossing will happen eventually. In the meantime, let’s reinstate the 601 express bus from Tsawwassen and Ladner to Vancouver. This is especially important for seniors going in for medical appointments. Having to transfer in Richmond at the SkyTrain is a pain for many users. At the very least we seniors wish TransLink would try a couple of runs weekdays during non-rush hour periods.

There’s also a need for community buses in North Delta to assist those who cannot hike up hills or whose bus stop is too far to walk to. To get to the Scott Road SkyTrain station, the routes there require switching buses at the Scott Road exchange. Also, having no access to bathrooms makes these long journeys nearly impossible for many seniors and people with disabilities.

Lastly, the really big issue everywhere is affordable housing, especially for renters. The largest piece of available land in the Lower Mainland has to be Paterson Park in Ladner (24 acres), owned by the City of Delta and Kwantlen Polytechnic University. The time has come for responsible leadership and decision-making to address this housing crisis. A new council could start with a “vision contest” for innovative ideas to develop this prime property for the benefit all ages, incomes and abilities. Until then, there could be a lovely small dog park inside of the existing big dog park.

So there we have it: small dog park(s), better transit and affordable rental housing. We know housing will be a major election issue in 2018, so let’s get these conversations going and the politicians listening.

Here’s a toast to all your wishes coming true in 2018.

ML Burke retired from the health sector to work on issues such as affordable housing. She sits on the Delta Seniors Planning Team and the BC Seniors Advocate’s Council of Advisors.

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