Sunbury Neighbourhood Association

the Surrey Leader - AUGUST 15, 2007

Political Pariah - It's Not Easy Being Delta

It’s not easy being Delta. Not when it comes to dealing with senior levels of government.

To wit:

When Delta tries to impose limits on stacks of containers, the provincial government says no. The explanation given is it’s not “in the provincial interest.”

When council lobbies for some input into the treaty negotiations with the Tsawwassen First Nation (TFN) Delta gets a seat on an advisory committee – with no power to affect the talks. Granted, the process offered no authority to municipalities, but that was Delta’s point.

When Delta proposes increasing the minimum distance between liquor stores to restrict their proliferation, it’s again told no.

When Delta tries to restrict air pollution from wood-burning greenhouses, it is advised by Victoria officials that it cannot interfere with agriculture.

Meanwhile, the same provincial government has removed a large portion of land from the Agricultural Land Reserve as part of a TFN deal that will see the former farmland used for – wait for it – container storage.

In the name of port expansion, the provincial government is preparing to push a four-lane commercial highway from the Deltaport container terminal through farmland in South Delta and long-established neighbourhoods in North Delta. Delta asks for mitigation measures like a “snow shed” type of cover to limit noise. It is turned down.

Little doubt there are all manner of bureaucratic and regulatory reasons the provincial government can quote to deny Delta’s calls for changes on these various issues. However, bureaucracy can be overruled. Regulations and rules can be changed, if there is a willingness to do so.

Yet, Delta council and the taxpayers it serves seem to continually receive a political slapdown from Victoria.

That may be understandable if the matters raised were of a vexatious or frivolous nature. They are most certainly not.

Delta has identified and attempted to respond to legitimate, valid issues that should – and do – concern members of the public.

Air pollution, open consultation on native treaties, visual blights upon the landscape, and the impact of port expansion and major highway construction are all topics that deserve far more from provincial authorities than a brusque brush-off.

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