If you’ve been following our Meet the Mayors series, then you’re well versed with the needs, goals, and achievements of three very different municipalities: Delta, North Vancouver, and Maple Ridge. To wrap up our Breakfast Event, we asked the panel to share the current municipal challenges. Here’s what they had to say…
Delta, Mayor Lois Jackson
One of the biggest issues that plagues Delta is traffic. Dealing with the Massey Tunnel leaves many residents spending hours in the car each day. That’s why Mayor Jackson is behind the George Massey Tunnel changes, which carries an average of 80,000 vehicles each day. The project includes a new bridge as well as Highway 99 improvements between Bridgeport Road in Richmond and Highway 91 in Delta. It will also include dedicated transit/HOV lanes and a multiuse pathway for cyclists and pedestrians across the new bridge. This project is expected to be completed by 2022.
In addition, the Tsawwassen Mills Ivanhoe Cambridge development, which will have more than 1.8 million square feet of retail space, means many local small businesses are worried about the impacts this could have on their livelihood. To counteract these concerns, Mayor Jackson has introduced a committee to support local owners, called the Small Business Sustainability Committee. This team of professionals will work with owners to help drive more traffic to their stores by introducing initiatives like pedestrian-friendly walkways and condensed commercial areas.
North Shore, Mayor Daryl Mussatto
Much like Mayor Jackson, traffic remains a critical issue for Mayor Mussatto. During peak rush hour times, both lanes of traffic travelling to and from North Vancouver are typically in gridlock. Creating better public transportation and roads is on his top priority list, as he feels another bridge would only add to the problem.
Another issue is affordable housing. As more jobs are being created on the North Shore, even residents that earn $80,000 a year are not making enough to live where they work. This means they have to commute from the suburbs, only adding to the current traffic issue.
In addition, they’re in need of elementary schools to accommodate young families, as well as create recreational areas to accommodate the surge of condo living. This has posed a further challenge as many long-time residents are resistant to change, expressing concerns over the quickly evolving cityscape.
Maple Ridge, Mayor Nicole Read
Garnering media attention for “tent city”, Mayor Read said homelessness is a continuing challenge for her municipality. Thanks to the recent services and shelters set-up to accommodate the people who set up camp five months ago, 70% are now off the streets. However, there is still more work to do.
Transportation needs are also a huge concern, which she feels is connected to their low rate of post-secondary attendees. With schools like UBC, SFU, and the University of the Fraser Valley well outside the city, Mayor Read feels that without a effective public transit system, high school graduates are deterred from exploring post-secondary education.
Despite the challenges that these municipalities face, we’re confident that with these mayors are well equipped to overcome them. We’ll make sure to check back in a year to see how far they’ve progressed!