DELTA FEELING BULLIED BY CAMPBELL GOVERNMENT
Brian Lewis, The Province
Published: Thursday, February 01, 2007
The relationship between Delta municipality and the B.C. government
hit a new low this week.
"It's enough to make you tear out your hair," says Delta Mayor Lois Jackson. "They're infringing on us so much that perhaps we should just hand them the keys to the city and say, 'Here, you run Delta.' "
The latest flare-up comes after a terse Jan. 23 letter from the Ministry of Transportation informed Delta that its new bylaw designed to control and regulate open shipping-container storage within the municipality would not be approved.
The Transportation Ministry has the right to sign off on pending municipal bylaws that affect any land within 800 metres of provincial highway intersections and this stipulation applied to some of the properties falling under Delta's new bylaw.
This rule is there to ensure that a municipal bylaw doesn't impede the flow of traffic on a provincial highway.
But in this case, Delta's mayor and council have strong suspicions that Victoria has used Section 52 of the Transportation Act to knee-cap its bylaw because the new rules would also restrict container storage in Delta.
Consequently, there will be a negative impact on an expanding Deltaport's potential business and Victoria's overall goals to expand B.C. shipping through its Gateway transportation project.
In other words, anything that impedes Gateway won't be tolerated in Victoria, no matter what the local impact.
Nor did Victoria offer details on why it rejected the bylaw.
"The Ministry of Transportation has found that Bylaw 6313 is contrary to the interests of Transportation in the Province of British Columbia. For this reason, this bylaw is not approved," the brief letter said.
Delta Coun. Vicki Huntington and her colleagues don't see how container storage will affect provincial roads and a Ministry of Transportation spokesman couldn't offer any enlightenment yesterday.
"What the B.C. government really intends here is that Delta not be able to regulate container storage on our own industrial lands," Huntington adds.
There are already an estimated 8,000 containers stored in Delta at any one time and when Deltaport's expansion is completed, there will be many more, city reports note.
"We're not trying to keep containers out, but we don't want to see stacks of them rising up next to residential areas," adds Jackson.
This is yet another skirmish in Delta's ongoing battle with the Gordon Campbell government on a number of fronts, and most of them relate to the $3-billion Gateway transportation project, expansion of Deltaport and the proposed federal-provincial treaty with the Tsawwassen First Nation.
In all these cases, Victoria has paid little or no heed to Delta's concerns.
Delta council amended the rejected bylaw on Monday to exclude properties within 800 metres of provincial roads. This, they reason, means that the bylaw is no longer subject to Ministry of Transport approval.
According to the transportation spokesman, they're correct, but Delta council knows full well that if the proposed South Fraser Perimeter Road is built, much of the land now covered by the amended bylaw falls back within Victoria's jurisdiction.
This is a fight that's far from over.
If you have a story idea or noteworthy item about anything going on in the Fraser Valley, you can e-mail Brian Lewis at email@example.com
© The Vancouver Province 2007