When it comes to Ladner’s future, I’m of two minds. While change is coming and necessary, not every proposed change seems to bode well for Ladner and our place within a healthy and vibrant City of Delta. Reading through the Ladner’s Landing Facebook feed and Nextdoor group, I’m confident I’m not alone in this. Most of the voices I hear have generally accepted that some level of change is needed. The general sentiment expressed online and in-person in Ladner is a fear that the changes which are on the way are out of sync with local interests and outside of the control of local residents. The truth is, I’m often “on the fence” with respect to various decisions facing Ladner residents and Delta City Council. These are hard decisions with generational impacts to be taken into consideration!

Goals for On The Fence in Ladner

“On the Fence” – torn between two or more options

I want my blog to be a place where I can think out loud about the reasons for indecision or ambivalence or suspicion. I’d like this site to be a place where big decisions are flagged for discussion before they are voted on by council. I hope to convince more of you that municipal politics is every bit as interesting and of far greater consequence to us than the goings-on in provincial, federal, and international politics!

Like you, I have noticed a host of overlapping issues impacting our community and I’m going to try to have a neighbourly chat with folks around here. Issues like the Ladner Village revitalization efforts, in-fill developments in Delta, public transit access, the Tsawwassen Mills complex and its impact on local businesses, municipal finances, and equity concerns come to mind when I think what needs setting right again in our ongoing work to shape our home together. If even some of us agree to work together on these issues as a consequence of this blogging project, I will be well-rewarded in knowing that a strengthened bond has been made.

I’d like to think about how we might, with tangible actions, improve our awesome town together as a community. I’d like to answer questions like, “how do we build, rebuild, refine, and renew Ladner so that we become a healthier, more resilient, and happier place for all?” I’d like to ask good questions of our public leaders and expect good ideas from them.

Along the way, I hope to introduce you the reader to some critical questions I’ve come across about the modern growth pattern that is bankrupting our cities. Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns calls this pattern “the growth ponzi scheme.” Whether it be about land use, transportation, and the vision we have for where we choose to live, work, and play, I’m persuaded that we can make better decisions today for a better future tomorrow. And we can engage our decision makers better – I’m not alone in noticing that all too often the loud objectors are the only ones willing to speak up and be heard and this has the effect of cancelling out the voices of marginalized or disenfranchised people.

Redrawing Some Lines

And if anyone is still reading after all of this preamble, I think that you might be persuaded that some of the lines that we draw on civic issues are not really being drawn in the right places. In some cases I mean that literally (setbacks, road widths, painted bike lanes, etc) while more generally I think lines/fences are built conceptually to create in and out groups (ex. YIMBY vs NIMBY, urbanists vs suburbanites, old Ladner vs new Ladner, wealth hoarders vs wealth enviers, etc). If I’m going to be on the fence while trying to figure out where I should stand on some proposal or issue, I really want to examine carefully the things which brought us to the point of drawing the line/fence where we did.


I am intellectually indebted to the Strong Towns Organization for the way in which their writings and podcasts have shaped the way that I view the spaces and places around me. Much of what you read here will be directly and indirectly coming from their materials and analytical framework.

I am reliant upon the excellent reporting being done by Sandor Gyarmati in the Delta Optimist. Local newspapers and citybeat reporters are an endangered species these days and I am grateful for the continued success of the Optimist and Mr. Gyarmati.

I am inspired by the great work being done by my brother-in-law in Winnipeg who has been publishing great articles on his site www.dearwinnipeg.com. I intend to parrot much of what he has written and hopefully bring some of the panache that he brings to his “fun blog about municipal finance and infrastructure.” And yes, it really is fun[ny]!

Lastly, I am guided by the core convictions of my Christian faith which move me to have a deep interest in the well-being of my neighbour, a calling to be a blessing for the good of those around me, and a concern about the injustices and inequities that we as a pluralist society frequently smudge out in order to appease our consciences or satisfy our greed.

About Me

I live in the Port Guichon neighbourhood in Ladner which is within the City of Delta.

  • My real name is Norm Van Eeden Petersman
  • I am happily married and have an elementary aged son
  • I am a pastor of a church in Vancouver
  • I want to be a good citizen of the place I live and that’s why I am involved in this undertaking

Every good blog asks the Web a question at the start: is there any demand out there for an original… for a me? You have to do the actual blog for a while to find out.”

Jay Rosen, Pressthink


There are big decisions ahead for Delta and for Ladner in particular and I’d like to write about them so that a) I can think through the issues for myself and b) I can encourage you to think about them and decide on what action you will take, if any is required. I think sometimes we need to make quick decisions to preserve essentials while other times we have the liberty to deliberate and plan ahead.


Ideas, even harebrained ones, are worth sharing. I sometimes get ideas that I think are worth sharing. I think the process of working out an idea and suggesting it to others is akin to a sea otter finding ways to eat shellfish and sea urchins. It takes lots of finessing to make it edible. This blog is my hard object that I use to crack open clamshells.


Before we moved to Ladner, we knew about its May Days festival, the village market and the bird sanctuary which is nearby. Now that we’re in Delta, we are getting to know the people and their affiliations. I am enjoying the spirited discussions of civic issues and the collaborative efforts of a whole range of civil society groups like DeltaAssist, the Cougar Creek Streamkeepers, the Delta Farmland & Wildlife Trust, the Delta Heritage Society, and the amazing Delta Hospital Auxiliary Society. These organizations, and many more, are essential to the work of making good decisions today for a better tomorrow. I hope that I can celebrate these organizations and the many organic efforts underway to make our City stronger.