It’s official: Delta can now call itself a city.
With the presentation of the municipality’s new letters patent from the province and a report by Delta CAO — now City Manager — George Harvie at this week’s council meeting, the now-former district municipality has been officially reclassified a city, with a new name to match.
“This is a momentous milestone for our municipality, reflective of the growing, vibrant diverse city that Delta has become with its variety of municipal services, infrastructure and initiatives,” said Mayor Lois Jackson in a press release. “I’m so pleased with Delta’s new designation and to welcome our municipality as the newest city in Canada during Canada’s 150th commemorative year.”
This marks the culmination of more than eight months of work in order to formally drop the “Corporation” mantle adopt the name City of Delta.
Council voted unanimously to pursue the name change at its Jan. 30 regular meeting. The Corporation then undertook a vote to gauge public support for the move.
Delta used an alternative approval process where residents were asked to fill out an elector response form only if they did not support the name change.
Only 1,506 people submitted valid elector response forms — 1450 from South Delta and 56 from North Delta — constituting 2.15 per cent of residents, well short of the 10 per cent of residents, or 6993 people, needed to block the initiative.
With the assent of voters, council gave the name change unanimous approval on May 15 and officially requested the province to make it so.
Initially, Delta was expecting the name change to take between six to eight weeks, but the May 9 provincial election and eventual change in government led to delays in the approval process.
On Sept. 22, the provincial government approved two orders-in-council: one officially reclassifying the Corporation of Delta as a city under the new name City of Delta, and one confirming Delta will retain all additional powers previously held as a district municipality.
The orders also confirm that Delta will retain all of its existing bylaws, permits, resolutions, licences and other actions issued, made or passed by council.
“Delta is grateful for the provincial government’s support to move ahead with this initiative,” Harvie said in press release. “A city classification builds upon Delta’s success and reputation as a vibrant municipality with a unique mix of urban and rural development, providing greater clarity and recognition for Delta.”
The push to rename the municipality came after the municipality sent a delegation to the World Conference on Cities and Ports in Rotterdam, Netherlands in October, 2016.
According to a report to council dated Jan. 3, 2017, the delegation ran into issues when officials from the host city “mistakenly assumed the Corporation of Delta was a private business and had difficulty comprehending Delta as a local government.”
Prior to council giving the plan final approval on May 15, Mayor Lois Jackson mentioned encountering similar difficulties during a trip to Ottawa.
“When we’re in Ottawa and people think we’re a business looking for grants, it’s a little bit embarrassing,” she said.
The Jan. 3 report goes on to say that the name change would “also supports the promotion of Delta’s identity as a vibrant city and community rather than a corporation.”
This is another topic Jackson brought up prior to council’s vote in May.
“If you Google the cities of British Columbia, Wikipedia does not have us there as a city,” she said. “That’s not good.”
According to Harvie’s report to be presented to council on Monday, a total of $2,200 was spent on advertisements promoting the proposed name change and informing Deltans about the alternative approval process. Any additional costs associated with the change are expected to remain within the $5,000 total project budget.
The report says Delta’s bulrush brand, coat of arms and municipal motto (“Ours to preserve by hand and heart”) will not change, “as these symbols remain integral to Delta, representing aspects of the municipality’s past, present and future.” However, Delta is required to notify the Canadian Heraldic Society of its reclassification and provide a copy of its new letters patent.
Most of Delta’s signage, vehicle fleet and stationary does not include the words “Corporation of,” and stationary items that do — such as business cards — will be updated as existing supplies are exhausted, helping keep costs to a minimum.
Staff will be updating Delta’s social media accounts from “CorpDelta” to “CityofDeltaBC,” but there are no costs associated with that change.
As part of the transition, the offices of chief administrative officer and municipal clerk will be updated to city manager and city clerk, respectively, to match naming conventions used by other Metro Vancouver municipalities.
Delta will celebrate its new name at two already-planned Canada 150 events to be held on Sunday, Dec. 10: one at Ladner Leisure Centre (2 to 4 p.m.) and one at Sungod Recreation Centre (3 to 5 p.m.), in partnership with the North Delta and South Delta minor hockey associations. Public admission is free and will be funded through federal government grants.
Parks, recreation and culture staff will also be developing an interactive timeline that will “highlight significant milestones and successes in Delta’s history” leading up the name change. Part of the display will allow Deltans to add their own community-based achievements to the timeline, and a touch-screen kiosk will give them access to additional archival information.
The timelines will be featured in Delta’s recreation and seniors’ centres following the Canada 150 skate celebrations.
– With files from Grace Kennedy