Surrey: Last Monday saw the Delta city council get down to work following their inaugural meeting the week before.
Five-term mayor, Lois Jackson, who was first elected to Delta council in 1972, has an experienced council including Bruce McDonald, first elected in 1988, Robert Campbell elected in 1999. Next in longevity is Jeannie Kanakos elected in 2005, then Heather King, who took a term out to challenge Jackson for Mayor in the last election first came to council on 2008. Ian Paton, a Ladner farmer and auctioneer was elected in 2010 in a by-election, and long time Delta teacher, Sylvia Bishop, elected in 2022 is back for her second term.
Asked about the extension of municipal terms to four years, Jackson said that over the years municipal governance has become much more complex and the four year term allows more time to complete projects.
“When I first started out it was a two year term,” said Jackson, “but I think in today’s world the number of bylaws, rules and regulations have grown enormously, so it usually takes a lot more time to get anything substantial done, from the necessary research through to the bylaw stage.”
Bruce McDonald was first elected in the era of the two-year term as was Jackson, when councilors were objective for a year and then started to campaign. This extension will allow a much longer period to concentrate on governance.
“We’re actually moving into an interesting phase now, we’ll be out of debt next year and have lots of options. Reading what our neighbour is planning for tax increases next year isn’t going to happen here.” McDonald said his agenda makers this year will include the port.
“They’re going through the environmental studies right now, that’s serious, but I think we really need to have a better understanding of the business plan as well,” said McDonald.
Sylvia Bishop felt that the term extension to four years is yet to be proven as effective. “If you have a great council you’ve got one more year to achieve an agenda that you’ve set out, but if a community has a disfunctional council it’s not such a great four years. I think it will be fine. This is an experienced council so the learning curve, to figure out what has been happening, doesn’t have to be as intense. ”
Asked about the agenda-makers in her view, Bishop cited the MK Lands application in North Delta which will come before council next year. She said there are lots of reports needed and lots of questions answered so council can make an informed decision. She said the proponents of the Southlands development will be coming back for their fourth(and final) reading. Although it’s passed against her opposition, she feels her job is to ensure that everything promised is delivered.
Heather King said that returning to council was like “putting on old boots” having been on council previously. Her main priority currently is to pursue a public workshop to identify and develop strategic ideas for Delta, as per her notice of motion at the council meeting.
The council also decided to ask Canada Post to come back to council and brief them further on the plan to remove home delivery service from the 4,900 residences in Ladner.