BC City Guide 2018: Delta

Delta is a spectacular place to watch the world go by. From its log-strewn beaches along the Strait of Georgia, you can marvel at some of the five million migratory birds that use the Fraser River delta as a vital stopover on their annual journeys between the Arctic and southern...

Credit: DeltaPort

Walkable neighbourhoods, a thriving industrial base, abundant natural beauty—the municipality has work and play covered

Delta is a spectacular place to watch the world go by. From its log-strewn beaches along the Strait of Georgia, you can marvel at some of the five million migratory birds that use the Fraser River delta as a vital stopover on their annual journeys between the Arctic and southern destinations. And without taking another step, you can watch billions of dollars worth of freight pass through Deltaport terminal, Canada’s largest container shipping port. Delta is a critical waypoint for people, goods and wildlife alike. Situated at Metro Vancouver’s most southwesterly corner and close to the U.S. border, it’s home to some of Western Canada’s most important road, rail and shipping infrastructure. At the same time, it shelters some of North America’s most distinctive and ecologically critical natural habitats.

Delta is not just somewhere to pass through, however. More than 100,000 people live here, mostly split among three distinct communities. There’s North Delta, a suburban community of some 50,000 that borders Surrey. There’s Ladner, which started out in the late 1860s as a fishing and farming settlement and, with a population of 25,000, retains much of its small-town charm. And then there’s Tsawwassen, home to one of the Lower Mainland’s two major BC Ferries terminals as well as about 25,000 people.

At 364 square kilometres, Delta is the largest municipality in Metro Vancouver, yet many of its neighbourhoods remain compact and walkable. That’s partly because much of its area is protected—either as farms under the province’s Agricultural Land Reserve, or as parks and wildlife reserves. This includes Burns Bog, a unique 3,000-hectare ecosystem that hosts 400 species of migratory birds and is the continent’s largest undeveloped urban wilderness.

A broad mix of industry sectors drive Delta’s economy. Warehousing, distribution and logistics predictably plays a significant role, with companies like Amazon.com Inc., GCT Global Container Terminals Inc. and TDK Logistics Inc. among the biggest employers. Two major industrial parks, Annacis Island and Tillbury, provide space and transportation infrastructure for more than 700 companies and 18,000 workers combined. Agriculture still dominates much of the landscape. The municipality’s farms, nurseries and greenhouses produce fresh potatoes, field vegetables and berries. Together, they earn about $170 million in gross farm receipts annually.

Many visitors only see Delta through their car windows when driving from the U.S. or the ferry, but the municipality is a global tourist destination in its own right—especially among birdwatchers and nature lovers. Its shores, bogs, marshes and estuaries support Canada’s largest populations of migratory birds, birds of prey and shore birds. The George C. Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Boundary Bay Regional Park and Alaksen National Wildlife Area are just some of the habitats that make Delta a Serengeti for birders.

Population: 108,943
Household age (0-45, 45-64, 64+): 24%, 46.1%, 29.9%
University grads: 22.4%
Average household income: $117,052
Average household income under 45: $109,449
Five-year income growth, 2012-17: 13.4%
Five-year population growth: 5.6%

Benchmark detached home price: $941,000 (North Delta); $1,017,200 (Ladner); $1,261,800 (Tsawwassen)
Benchmark condominium price: $375,000 (North Delta); $431,300 (Ladner); $460,500 (Tsawwassen)
Average monthly rent for a two-bedroom: $1,162
Average annual household spending on shelter: $26,663

Key industries: Warehousing, distribution and logistics; manufacturing; agriculture; shipping
Notable employers: Amazon.com Inc.; Apps Cargo Terminals Inc.; Avcorp Industries Inc.; BC Fresh Vegetables Inc.; Beedie Development Group; British Columbia Ferry Corp.; Canadian Autoparts Toyota Inc.; Farrow Logistics; GCT Global Container Terminals Inc.; Lehigh Cement; Ocean Trailer; Pet Valu; Specialty Distributing Ltd.; TDK Logistics Inc.; TJ Maxx; Westshore Terminals Ltd.
Regional unemployment: 4% (February)

Total value of building permits issued in 2017: $376,441,429
Change from 2016: 8.8%
Average processing time for a building permit: 7-16 weeks
Cost of a business licence: $110 -$985
Business property tax rate: $15.17 per $1,000 of assessed value (North Delta and Annacis Island); $15.11 (Ladner and South Delta)
Average office lease rate per sq. ft./year: $22-$43.50
Average retail lease rate: $22-$43.50

Major post-secondary institutions: BCIT/Vancouver Community College Annacis Island campus
Major recreational amenities: George C. Reifel Bird Sanctuary; Boundary Bay Regional Park; Alaksen National Wildlife Area; 40 play areas; 50 ball diamonds; four skating rinks; two curling rinks; three indoor pools; two outdoor pools; 41 all-weather and grass fields; three water play parks; five synthetic turf fields, 45 tennis courts; three boat launches; three skateboard parks; three lawn bowling clubs; five outdoor lacrosse boxes; three seniors centres; three youth centres; 12 off-leash dog areas; two bike pump tracks; three community gardens
Key annual events: Heritage Week, Delta Trades & Technical Career Fair, Ladner Pioneer May Days, Ladner Village Market, North Delta Family Days, Tour de Delta, Boundary Bay Airshow, Tsawwassen Sun Festival, Community Animal Expo, Quilt Walk & Classic Car Show, Luminary Festival, outdoor movie nights
Average annual household spending on recreation: $6,144
Residents who walk or bike to work: 3.1%