More of the same for Delta's Paterson Park

What you see is what you'll get for some time to come at Paterson Park.

Council recently approved another two-year licence agreement with Kwantlen Polytechnic University to allow the municipality to operate an electronic messaging board on a section of the park owned by the post-secondary institute.

The annual licence fee of just $1 per year for Delta ensures the park will remain completely a passive park for the foreseeable future. Bound by Ladner Trunk Road and Highway 17A, the former harness racing track has been vacant for decades, used only by people going out for some exercise and dog walkers.

The western portion of the park, comprising just under five hectares (12 acres) is owned by Delta.

The eastern section owned by the university is slightly smaller.

Delta will maintain the entire site as part of the licence agreement.

Kwantlen College purchased the eastern section from the Delta Agricultural Society for $3.5 million in 1993.

When the announcement was made that year, then mayor Beth Johnson described the deal as "one of the best things that's ever happened to Delta."

The idea at the time was that Kwantlen would build a post-secondary campus, but nothing came of it and the university currently has no plans to build anything there.

paterson park

A 1953 photo of the entrance to Paterson Park when it was owned by the Delta Agricultural Society. The property in the most prominent location in Ladner has been empty for over 50 years since harness racing ceased operating there.


A few years ago, the university confirmed it was going to put the land up for sale to divest itself of the property.

However, a challenge finding a buyer is that the land is zoned for public use.

Also, the Delta Agricultural Society sold the land at a discount under the provision a post-secondary institute would be built there, which means any other plans would also require the society’s approval.

Former councillor Sylvia Bishop in 2012 brought forward a motion for the municipality to purchase Kwantlen's portion. Around the same time a group called Paterson Park for Deltans gathered over 1,000 names on a petition to secure full public ownership.

At that time the university’s portion was assessed at just over $11 million.

paterson park

Paterson Park was formerly known as the fairgrounds before it was renamed in 1951 to honour A.D Paterson, a former reeve for 29 years and MLA for eight years. He was also honourary president of the Delta Agricultural Society, which purchased the land in 1902.


Then mayor Lois Jackson at the time noted the zoning for the site restricts what can be done, and she didn't know where Delta would get the millions to make such purchase.

In 1999, the municipality, after lobbying by the group Friends of Paterson Park, purchased its 12 acres of the park for $5.25 million.

A task force was then formed which heard a wide range of community submissions on what should be built there.

Some of the proposals included a Ladner Business Association idea for a multi-use outdoor recreation area.

Other proposals included a Delta Millennium Committee plan for a cultural centre, a new facility for the Delta Museum and Archives and a palliative care centre for the Delta Hospice Society.

Citing a lack of money and the fact the park ranked low on a municipal priority list, Delta ended up putting all development options on the shelf.

In 2013, the Delta Seniors Planning Team pitched a vision of an inclusive seniors’ community that includes many facets: a mix of owned and rental units, seniors housing, assisted living and full residential care, adult and child day care, as well as co-housing units and a designated residential dementia care centre.

The city has no plans, not even in the parks and recreation master plan for the long-term, to develop the park.




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