by Ray Hudson
Delta: The Asian Journal is conducting a series of interviews with the Members of the Legislature, for the south Fraser constituencies, to step back from their wider provincial perspectives and focus on the issues of their own constituencies. In this second report, we focus on Delta North, MLA Scott Hamilton, who moved up after serving four terms on Delta council. He was asked about the move out of municipal government to the provincial level.
“I guess I went into it with rose-coloured glasses to a certain extent,” said Hamilton. From the local level, you tend to look at it through a different lens. I miss the ability to touch it and feel it and get things done in an expedient manner. When you’re dealing with provincial legislation the levels are so much greater and there’s so much more at stake in terms of how you’re affecting the lives of taxpayers. For example, I have always been very much concerned with, and involved in, transportation. Provincially, it’s a much more global scale and that’s exciting.”
“When the premier first approached me, she mentioned the Massey tunnel replacement project, its regional importance and how she wanted me involved at some level. I had been talking to the Transportation Minister about it as a Delta councillor.”
For North Delta specifically, he said they were able to get a cost-sharing commitment out of the provincial and federal governments, for $10 million in each, to improve the 72nd Avenue and Highway 91 intersection.
When asked when it might happen, Hamilton said that the project depends on the outcome of an application concerning the $30 million project that’s going to Delta Council in the next few months, which could see $10 million coming from MK Delta Lands as part of the development proposal for that corner.
“Now there’s an opportunity to get it done and I think it will go a long way to help reduce the congestion in that area.”
Still, the major problem for his constituents remains the transportation bottle-neck and traffic gridlock by being at the western end of the Alex Fraser Bridge access. He says if the referendum can result in some significant transit improvements south of the Fraser, that’ll go a long way to getting people out of their cars and using a transit system that benefit them.
“I hear people saying they won’t spend the extra half percent (tax) because they don’t use the bus – ‘why should I pay for something I don’t use?’ People don’t get it. If there’s less congestion on the road for those who must drive, everyone wins. I think the people that jump to opposition because the word tax is involved, need to take a broader look at the issue, educate themselves and consider how it will benefit the region and the population living here, including themselves. They also need to understand the consequences if nothing is done. It affects the lives of everyone in this region whether they use the system or not.”
The Premier has been criticized for requiring a plebiscite on the Mayors’ proposal for funding TransLink, while simply announcing projects such a the Massey Tunnel replacement. When asked how he reconciles these, Hamilton said the TransLink issue is about applying a tax on the Metro Vancouver Regional District and needed the approval of the residents. The announcement to build the Massey Tunnel replacement project would likely be handled through a model similar to that used to build and operate the Port Mann Bridge, a facility that will be paid for by tolls.
It will leave only one crossing west of Abbotsford that is free.