Land and People
The City of Delta is a Canadian district municipality,* a part of the Greater Vancouver Regional District of the Province of British Columbia on the peninsula surrounded by the Fraser River on the north, the Strait of Georgia on the west, Boundary Bay on the south, and the City of Surrey on the east. 120 Street from Boundary Bay north to 96 Avenue and from there west to the river forms the border between Delta and Surrey. Delta derives its name from the Fraser River Delta formed by silt deposited over millennia and crossed by several channels.
In the 2011 Census, Delta’s population was 99,863, up 3.3 percent from 2006. About 28 percent of residents are what Canadians call “visible minorities,” mainly Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, and Korean Asians. Diversity in the schools is not a problem. The Tsawwasen Indian Reserve adjacent to the causeway to the ferry terminal from points on the Vancouver Island archipelago across the Strait of Georgia, home to 1,400 aborigines, is bounded on the south by the small American portion of the peninsula below the 49th Parallel and on the north by a channel of the river delta.
Delta comprises three distinct, geographically separate communities:
- North Delta in the northeast houses over half Delta’s population. It is a mostly suburban area situated between Surrey and the Burns Bog.
- Ladner started as a 19th-century fishing village in northwest Delta and expanded into a suburb. Historic Ladner is an active fishing village with restored 19th-century homes behind dykes that hold back the water of the raging river.
- Tsawwassen on the ocean in southwest Delta is also suburban. Luxurious homes lining Tsawwassen’s coast reflect the economic growth of that community.
Thomas and William Ladner in 1868 made a good investment in farming the area named after them. Farming and fishing sustained later settlers as the community grew. Delta incorporated in 1879 with the Village of Ladner as its administrative centre. Geography kept Delta relatively isolated until opening of the George Massey Tunnel in 1959 and redirection of BC Highway 99 in 1962 through Ladner to the tunnel linked Delta to the Richmond and Vancouver municipalities north of the river, ended the isolation, and drove an enormous population growth that brought many new schools and educational facilities to the district over the next 20 years.
Transport and Commerce
The South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority operates a public transit bus system. SkyTrain rail stations in Surrey reach within a few kilometres of North Delta. Delta connects first to New Westminster and then to Richmond by BC Highway 91 over the massive Alex Fraser Bridge opened in 1986 and to Surrey, Langley, and all points east on BC Highway 10. Most car and truck traffic from Vancouver to the USA goes through Delta via Highway 99. Most traffic to Vancouver Island uses the BC Ferries service facilities in the Tsawwassen part of Delta.
Delta’s Boundary Bay Airport, Canada’s fifth busiest in aircraft movements is primarily for general aviation, commercial charters, and flying instruction. Vancouver International Airport, 15 miles to the northwest on Sea Island between Vancouver and Richmond, served in 2013 almost 18,000,000 passengers on daily flights to and from airports in North America, Europe, and Asia.
Economy and Sustainability
Agriculture remains vital to Delta’s economic, environmental, and social sustainability. Delta farms and food production facilities produce fruits and berries, herbs, honey, summer and winter vegetables, and meats. Farmers Markets are prominent. The Ladner Village Market is Western Canada’s largest. Delta encourages residents to grow their own vegetables. Several local nonprofit organizations make community garden plots available to residents with no land of their own.
The Fraser Delta area is a bountiful wildlife habitat that makes tourism a good investment as another major part of the economy. Burns Bog, the largest peat bog on the North American west coast, covers about 30 square miles in the east central part of the peninsula west of North Delta. The Burns Bog Conservation Society arranges tours through its trails and waterways. Over 200 migratory bird species stop at Burns Bog. The Delta Nature Reserve in the northeastern corner of Burns Bog has three loops of boardwalks and trails. Meanwhile, out on the ocean, many other tourists enjoy the pastime of whale-watching.
* District municipalities are those greater than eight square kilometers (five square miles) in area with a population density of fewer than 500 per square kilometer (800/square mile). At 141 square miles, Delta has the largest municipal land area in the district; its neighbour to the east, Surrey, is second largest at 122.