Name: Kathleen E. Higgins
Why are you running for city council?
I'm running for Delta Council because I believe I can help Delta face its present challenges. I am convinced that, by making wiser use of existing residential land in Delta, we can better protect farmland and natural areas, attract more first time home buyers to Delta and increase our tax base, so that Delta can more easily pay for services and infrastructure.
What do you feel you offer the citizens of Delta?
I offer the citizens of Delta my expertise, dedication and new ideas. My 2009 submission to the Delta Housing Task Force could be the beginning of a trend toward building smaller homes on smaller lots-- renewing Delta, both visually and demographically. I've lived in Delta for over 35 years. My husband and I have raised our family here. I've worked as a lawyer, a journalist, and a community activist. At present I'm the office manager for 3 of my older children, the award-winning country music band, The Higgins. I have a history degree and a law degree. I understand the challenges facing Delta and am convinced I can help Delta meet those challenges.
What do you feel is the biggest issue facing:
Lack of affordable housing is an important issue for North Delta. Large single family homes and new luxury townhomes are beyond the reach of most first time buyers. People want more choices in affordable housing than just small apartments and secondary rental suites. Allowing empty-nesters to turn their large empty homes into strata title homes, as has been allowed in Shaunessy and North Vancouver, is worth considering for Delta. Encouraging home owners to replace aging ranchers with 3 smaller homes, rather than one large home, is worth considering, especially if one of the 3 is a maintenance-free retiree's unit. To protect farmland and natural areas and to increase Delta's tax base, Delta needs to explore new ideas for home ownership.
There are many issues facing Ladner. Declining school enrollment that lead to school closures is one. To address this challenge we need to attract young families to Ladner with innovative home ownership options. The truck traffic from the Delta Port expansion is another issue that impacts Ladner. The disruption of farmland around Ladner as the South Fraser Perimeter Road is built on the present route is an important issue. If Southlands is approved, the extra traffic that would be generated would negatively affect Ladner residents. The need for funding from other levels of government to carry out dredging in Ladner Harbour is an important issue. The need to renew the downtown core in Ladner is also an important issue.
The Southlands issue is the biggest challenge facing Tsawwassen at present. I am in favour of putting Southlands back into the Agricultural Land Reserve. The negative impact of Delta Port Expansion is another issue. Declining school enrollment is another important issue and, as in North Delta and Ladner, I would propose encouraging the building of smaller homes on smaller lots as one way of attracting more young families to Tsawwassen. If large lots could be subdivided by the owners themselves rather than by developers, this would allow the owners to sell part of their lot at a more reasonable price. It would allow retirees to sell part of their lot to their grown children, and still remain in their own neighbourhood as they age.
Delta as a whole?
Other levels of government have not paid sufficient attention to preserving quality of life in Delta. Mega-projects from higher levels of government like the Delta Port Expansion and the South Fraser Perimeter Road show that Delta is seen more as a transition point, rather than a respected community. Delta needs to make its voice heard to other levels of government. Delta needs to use its existing residential land more wisely and create smaller homes on smaller lots in order to attract more young families to Delta, to keep retirees in Delta and to increase its tax base.
Tsawwassen Area Plan
Tsawwassen is currently in the midst of an area plan review. As your first order of business as a city councilor it is likely you will have to vote on an updated plan. The most contentious issue in the Tsawwassen Area Plan is the proposed development of the Southlands by the Century Group.
Do you support some residential development of the Southlands? * (Required)
As a councilor would you vote to rezone this property from its current agricultural designation to allow residential/commercial development on the property? * (Required)
I favour putting Southlands back into the Agricultural Land Reserve. It would be an extremely negative precedent to allow this prime agricultural land to be turned into residential land. It's better to use existing residential land in Delta more wisely, gradually increasing the number of home owners by building smaller, more modest homes on smaller lots and subdividing large lots, where appropriate, than to allow the huge development of Southlands to proceed.
South Fraser Perimeter Road
The provincial government has officially announced the construction of the South Fraser Perimeter Road. This 40 kilometer four lane highway will cut through Delta connecting Delta Port with Highway 1.
What is your view of the South Fraser Perimeter Road?* (Required)
I favour using trains and/or barges to move container traffic out of Delta rather than using trucks to transport container traffic and building the Sough Fraser Perimeter Road. If the highway for trucks is to be built, however, there are at least two other routes that could be used, which would not impact Delta farmland and Burns' Bog so negatively. I would promote the tunnel option or the Hoover Naas Option in Delta Council and try to highlight the negative environmental and social factors of the present SFPR route.
In Region Waste to Energy
Mayor Lois Jackson has gone on record supporting an in region waste to energy facility be built in Delta.
Do you support development of a waste to energy incinerator in the Delta region? * (Required)
In studying the science of energy from waste, there seems to be much less air pollution and leeching involved with an energy from waste plant located in Delta or Gold River, compared to filling thousands of trucks with garbage so that the garbage can be driven hundreds of miles to a large dump, such as at Cache Creek. I do support vigorous recycling policies and the eventual goal of zero waste. Until then, however, if waste can produce jobs, relatively clean energy and revenue for Delta instead of costing millions of dollars every year, we should consider the advantages of energy from waste.
What is your favorite food? Everything except squid
What is your favorite movie? Lord of the Rings
What is your favorite place in Delta?
I don't have just one favorite place. The beaches, dykes, farms, parks, Nature Reserve and forests in Delta are all wonderful. We took our children to Centennial Beach so many times while they were growing up, so that is definitely one of my favorites. Watershed Park could be an international tourist destination if more people realized how beautiful it is. I remember taking our children to Deas Island Park when they were little to pick black berries; it's a wonderful place for a family picnic. Delta could become an eco-tourist destination with just a little more promotion.
What is the last book you read?
To Africa with a Dream
Who is the one person who you admire most?
In the late 1950s, just before Kenya gained its independence, Olga Marlin was one of several women who moved to Kenya with the goal of starting the first Kenyan inter-racial and interdenominational school. Olga showed generosity, strength and solidarity with the poor when she left everything behind in her own country of Ireland in order to help people in a developing country. I admire her big heart.
Who are the major contributors to your campaign?
The contributors to my campaign are friends and neighbours. They were moved to donate to my campaign because they liked my 2009 Delta Housing Task Force submission and believe my ideas can help make wiser use of existing residential land, create affordable home ownership options for first time buyers, give more housing options to retirees, and generally help improve Delta.
If you don't win in this by-election do you plan to run in the general election in 2011?