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Developing Delta: Protecting Delta’s way of life

Some residents of Delta are opposed to a new terminal expansion currently being proposed by the port. In this September photo protesters gathered to block construction crews from removing logs in Boundary Bay that would earn Port Metro Vancouver environmental mitigation credits for future applications. - Adrian MacNair photo
Some residents of Delta are opposed to a new terminal expansion currently being proposed by the port. In this September photo protesters gathered to block construction crews from removing logs in Boundary Bay that would earn Port Metro Vancouver environmental mitigation credits for future applications.
— image credit: Adrian MacNair photo

As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said (according to Plato): "The only constant is change."

There are numerous large scale developments happening in Delta and nearly all of them have encountered resistance of one kind or another. Whether it's the high density Marina Garden Estates project in Ladner, the mixed use development in Tsawwassen's Southlands, or a proposal second terminal at Deltaport, residents in Delta haven't made it easy for developers here.

Cliff Caprani, a member of the group Citizens Against Port Expansion, moved to Delta two years ago and said he's not a NIMBY (not in my backyard) and expects change to happen.

"Development will occur," he said. "This is a beautiful part of the world and there's a great tendency for people to want to move out and live here."

But Caprani said he and others in his group are concerned about the environmental damage that will be caused by an expanded Deltaport.

"We are most definitely not anti-business. We're more than happy for the port to be operating the way that it currently is. Yes, that's fine. But we have several objections to this proposal."

The primary concern is the environmental damage to Roberts Bank that could irreparably destroy the ecosystem around the port.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency was accepting public input on the port's proposal until Oct. 15 and Caprani said he and others have written letters urging them to hold the project to the highest possible standards.

"If things go very badly wrong from an environmental point of view it will be too late once the port finds out for them to be able to correct it," said Caprani.

Caprani is concerned that the "habitat banking" projects undertaken by Port Metro Vancouver in Delta recently will have earned the port enough environmental credits to mitigate the damage that will be done.

Delta resident Richard Kunz said the expansion of the port is the reason the George Massey Tunnel is being replaced, which will only bring more urban sprawl and loss of farmland.

He said recent improvements like the Golden Ears Bridge, South Fraser Perimeter Road, or proposed Massey Tunnel replacement is purely for commercial and industrial purposes.

"When you build that infrastructure all of a sudden you have developers with dollar signs flashing before their eyes because it's cheap and easy to build on flat land, just like the port's doing," he said.

Kunz said farmland in Delta will disappear, as it's done in Richmond and other communities around Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, and the Agricultural Land Reserve won't be enough to stop it.

"Provincially or federally if someone really pushes hard enough guess what happens? Corporate interests are taking over community interests any day of the week at the political level."

Kunz said if the Massey Tunnel replacement project was truly to alleviate rush hour traffic then the province would have undertaken a study to address all the bottlenecks along Hwy. 99 and other traffic corridors. But he said the real reason is the province just wants commercial goods to move more frequently and faster from Deltaport.

Kunz went further and said the land swap the Corporation of Delta made at 56th Street and Hwy. 17 in Tsawwassen wasn't for the stated purpose of organic agriculture, but so that they would own the land when an overpass is needed to alleviate gridlock after Tsawwassen First Nation builds out.

"Why do we have to be constantly barraged by this public relations misdirection by politicians and developers?"

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