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Top 5 news stories from 2013
Delta has long been isolated by geography, cut off from the rest of Metro Vancouver by the Fraser River. In 2013, that changed, with transportation projects connecting Delta to the rest of the region like never before.
The announcement by Premier Christy Clark in September that the provincial government intends to replace the aging George Massey Tunnel with a new bridge along Highway 99 came as welcome news for the many South Deltans who commute across the Fraser River every day.
According to Clark, the cost for the bridge would likely be in the $1 billion-range, similar to the Port Mann Bridge. She promised construction on the new span would begin by no later than 2017, but wouldn’t say whether tolls will be required to pay for it.
After close to four years of construction, the long-awaited opening of the 40-km, $1.26 billion South Fraser Perimeter Road in South Delta took place in December.
The new highway will connect the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal and the Roberts Bank superport with Highway 1, providing a direct link through Ladner, Tilbury, North Delta, and Surrey.
This past year saw a number of residential developments move forward, each with the potential to change the community around them.
In November, Delta Council voted 6-1 in favour of approving the controversial Southlands development in Tsawwassen, after more than 40 years of failed attempts to develop the 217-hectare parcel.
The proposed development, which still needs approval from Metro Vancouver, will see 950 residential units built on the property, with close to 80 per cent of the property to be upgraded for agricultural use and handed over to the Corporation of Delta.
In July, the Marina Garden Estates development was approved by Delta Council on third reading in a narrow 4-2 vote. The development along the Ladner waterfront calls for 674 residential units, as well as a waterfront park and public space.
In October, MK Delta Lands revised their development proposal for a 36-hectare site adjacent to the Burns Bog Conservancy Area.
The new plan scrapped a proposed 40,000-square-metre outlet mall, and includes 1,100 residential units in the form of 650 four-storey apartments and 450 three-storey townhouses, as well as 12,000 square metres of commercial space. The neighbourhood plan calls for a walkable town centre, with community space and parks making up close to half of the property.
The proposal will also see $12 million in Highway 91 upgrades, as well as an additional 78 hectares of land added to the conservancy area.
The revised MK Delta Lands proposal is set to go to public hearing in early 2014.
With change comes protest to that change, and in 2013, South Deltans made their voices heard. In Tsawwassen, concerned residents there spoke up about the controversial Southlands development, as well as the proposal to install a 50,000-watt, 150-foot tall five-tower AM radio array just over the border in Point Roberts.
The proposed Fraser Surrey Docks coal terminal generated fierce public opposition from residents upset with prospect of more coal train rumbling through Delta.
In September, protesters blocked Port Metro Vancouver construction crews tasked with removing creosote-covered driftwood logs from the Boundary Bay salt marsh in a largely symbolic protest against Port Metro Vancouver’s proposed Terminal 2 expansion.
Two Delta politicians fought and succeeded in retaining their office this past year.
In May Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington became the first independent provincial politician in history to win re-election. Huntington soundly defeated challengers Bruce McDonald of the BC Liberals and Nic Slater of the BC NDP.
Huntington held 48.03 per cent of the popular vote, with 10,619 in her favour. McDonald had 8,114 votes (36.7 per cent), while Slater had 3,375 (15.27 per cent).
Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Bryce Williams was re-elected after the result of the Sept. 2012 election were thrown out. Chief Williams won by a 106-86 margin in the rematch over former chief Kim Baird, who served as head of Tsawwassen First Nation for 14 years.
A number local organizations, groups, and institutions passed significant milestones this past year. Most notable, the Delta Police Department celebrated 125 years of serving and protecting Deltans, while the Delta Fire Department marked its 50th anniversary.
South Delta’s two public high schools both celebrated birthdays, with Delta Secondary School marking a full century of educating Ladner’s teens, while Tsawwassen’s South Delta Secondary School turned 40 years old.
Each of Delta’s pubic libraries also had anniversaries in 2013. The Ladner Pioneer Library turned 50 years old this year, while Tsawwassen Library celebrated 40 years since its founding. The George Mackie Library in North Delta also had a birthday, turning 30 years old.
A number of community organizations had birthdays of their own in 2013. The Delta Hospital Foundation marked 25 years of working to improve the standard of care at the Delta Hospital, while the Burns Bog Conservation Society also celebrated its 25th anniversary, marking a quarter century of work to protect the ecologically-sensitive Burns Bog.