DELTA â€” Lois Jackson will seek re-election as Delta’s mayor in the November civic election.
"There are still a lot of things I would like to complete," Jackson told the Now.
She has been Delta’s mayor since November 1999, well outserving her Surrey counterparts Dianne Watts, Doug McCallum and Bob Bose, who each served nine-year terms as mayors in the neighbouring city.
The veteran incumbent mayor announced her decision Monday afternoon at Delta’s municipal hall.
Jackson said she wants to see the Massey tunnel replacement project completed and an "amicable conclusion" brought to the debate over tolling bridges in the Lower Mainland.
"Transportation I think is one of the biggest problems we’ve got," she said.
"I’d also like to leave the municipality debt free. We’re almost there. We are almost debt free."
Jackson told the Now she’d like to see created a Scott Road streetscape "better than what we have today.
"I think we do have to get together with Surrey."
She originally hails from Sudbury, Ontario, and moved to Delta in 1969. In 1973 she became the municipality’s first female alderman.
Serving in her 16th year as mayor, to date, Jackson said she wants "one more term, and that’ll be it."
Exploring "better ways" to manage secondary suites in North Delta is also on her agenda, if re-elected. "We have to make sure we’re on the right road," she said, concerning the housing stock. "I think we have to be a little more selective.
"These cul-de-sacs are very tight for parking as it is."
She also weighed in on Port Metro Vancouver’s recent controversial approval of a $15 million coal transfer operation at Fraser Surrey Docks that will see an increase in train trips annually through White Rock, Surrey and Delta.
The approval has been slammed as "ridiculous fiasco" from one Now letter writer who noted that Oregon recently denied a similar project proposed for the Columbia River.
Christine Sorensen, vice-president of the BC Nurses’ Union expressed concern about the "alarming public health risks associated with coal dust.
"The significant risks associated with the transportation of raw resources through densely populated regions are well-documented," Sorenson noted. "BCNU believes the health and well-being of thousands of citizens who are directly or indirectly impacted have not been fully considered in this decision."
While White Rock council opposed the project outright, Surrey and Delta councils withheld their support pending a third-party health impact assessment. According to Peter Xotta, vice-president of operations and planning for Port Metro Vancouver, "Port Metro Vancouver found no evidence of negative human health impacts of the project beyond acceptable minimums."
While Surrey and White Rock politicians have expressed disappointment with Port Metro’s approval of the controversial coal project, Jackson seemed acquiescent, noting that Port Metro has its mandate from the federal government and the decision was not in her power to control. Coal, she added, is "quite inert" compared to other commodities being transported by rail. "I can’t say this is a terrible bad thing."
Jackson said Delta’s government isn’t sitting on its hands, though. She said it’s setting up coal dust testing stations along the stretch of Burlington Northern-Sante Fe rail that passes through Delta, and the air will be monitored 24-7.
"We’re actually doing the science," she said. "We’re doing our own. We’re monitoring it very closely."
Jackson said specimens will be sent to a lab, to assess air quality. "If we find a major problem then we can take it to the government," she said. "We can’t simply go on emotion."
Moreover, she said the results will be made public.
"We want to bring that scientific information to the general public," Jackson said.