– Without rapid transit line, Port Moody may slow growth

Vancouver Sun

By Kelly Sinoski

METRO VANCOUVER — Port Moody Mayor Joe Trasolini plans to recommend that the city start slowing growth along the proposed $1.4-million Evergreen Line amid fears the rapid transit line will never be built.

Trasolini said he will make a verbal motion at next week’s council meeting to amend the city’s official community plan to allow only minimal growth.

The city has been growing rapidly in the past 15 years, he said, after promises were made to build the Evergreen Line to connect Burnaby, Port Moody and Coquitlam.

But with the constant delays, the development — built for 10,000 people within four square blocks — has now begun to outstrip infrastructure in the city.

“The OCP has to reflect the fact that we can’t keep growing,” Trasolini said. “The population in the last 15 years has doubled . . . we’re being criticized for growing too much without infrastructure in place.”

Trasolini’s recommendation was prompted by a report by Regional Transportation Commissioner Martin Crilly, who has warned TransLink that its proposed 10-year transit plan was unreasonable and that it had to learn to live within its means.

The plan, which requires approval by Crilly and the regional mayors’ council, suggested TransLink needed another $450 million annually to maintain and expand the transit system. TransLink has since reduced its supplement to $275 million following Crilly’s report and said it now can’t afford to build the rapid transit line.

Transportation Minister Shirley Bond said Thursday the government still plans to build the Evergreen Line but wouldn’t say where the money would come from, noting the ministry will meet with TransLink and the mayors to help TransLink find ways to raise its $400-million share.

The provincial and federal governments have committed $800 million to the project. An Evergreen project update, released by the ministry this week, said construction on the rapid transit line will start in late 2010.

“I wish they would actually sit down with us to remove the anxiety because these vague promises don’t do anything for our timeline,” Trasolini said. “We have TransLink on one side saying we don’t have the money and the province on the other saying they’ll build it anyway. Why don’t we sit down and iron it out?”

TransLink spokesman Ken Hardie said the news bodes well for the northeast sector noting the province can move ahead on the rapid transit line immediately with the money it already has, while TransLink can put its share in later.

That was done in the case of the Canada Line, he said, but it was the province who was the last to put in any money. “It’s good news for folks in the northeast sector; they don’t have to wait for TransLink’s issue to be resolved before they go ahead with that,” he said.

Trasolini said if money is found for the Evergreen Line, the city can always change its official community plan to allow for more growth.


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