Friday, November 13, 2009 – Evergreen needs one more stop, group says
By the numbers, Port Moody needs a third station for the Evergreen Line.
So says a grassroots group in Moody Centre, which is pushing government officials at various levels for a western stop on the proposed rapid-transit line for the Tri-Cities.
The Port Moody Western Station Committee argues that one in four Port Moody residents could be short-changed if a station isn’t located on the city’s west side. The committee is an informal group made up of Moody Centre businesses, residents and organizations.
Aside from the stations planned for St. Johns and William streets and at Ioco Road, only one other stop is being considered by government officials for the city: west Port Moody.
Another additional stop near Lincoln Avenue is also a possibility, but has no firm commitment.
“Two additional station locations will be considered, working in consultation with local communities, based on their ability to shape land use and promote increased density and ridership,” a project backgrounder states.
But the group says, by its calculations, omitting the Barnet Highway portal would mean the Evergreen Line would bypass more than 8,300 residents, or one in four in the community.
John Grasty, chair of the Port Moody Western Station Committee, said group members extrapolated numbers from Canada Post and census figures to determine populations in the area. The hope is that the figures will persuade Port Moody council to drum up momentum for a west side station.
“We’re trying to make a compelling case, which we feel we’ve made extraordinarily, for the west side of Port Moody,” Grasty said.
Once committee members began crunching numbers, he added, they realized that only 7.9 per cent of Port Moody’s population is over the age of 65 — well below Vancouver’s average of 12 per cent and the provincial average of 14 per cent.
“We have a very young demographic. We do not have a very big senior demographic compared to Metro Vancouver or the rest of the province,” he said. “There’s lots of younger people who want to take their bikes on the SkyTrain or walk down the hill.”
Committee spokesperson Robert Simons said there are more than 600 signatures on a petition the committee has circulated to press TransLink and government officials for a western station.
“There’s a strong community sentiment, for a number of reasons, to have a third station in Port Moody,” he said, noting such a station could spawn commercial redevelopment opportunities and leverage the area’s heritage.
“It will be that catalyst that will do things for Port Moody not only immediately, but for the next 30 and 40 years to come.”
Simons said the committee went to city council Tuesday to encourage local leaders in early lobbying efforts for the third station.
“You’ve got to be proactive in your activities,” he said, adding that waiting “may not serve the purpose.
“We have to continue to push the case, because it will not happen without the community input and support.”
Port Moody acting mayor Meghan Lahti said, however, that council’s support for a third station is on the record and that won’t change.
“We support a third station in the city. Where and how that station is put together is still a question mark.”
The city will begin joint planning with TransLink, Lahti said, adding that meetings could be held as early as sometime during the next few months. That’s when discussions around a third station could come up.
“There will be a time for us as a city to get involved and make our position better known to those planning bodies,” she said, adding that the municipality is still waiting for concrete news on funding from TransLink. “We’ll see what happens. At some point someone will have to come up with some money before a shovel hits the ground. We’re still waiting for that.”
Lahti stressed that, despite current funding challenges, it may be possible to add stations in the future. “The funding for this entire line is still questionable. If they proceed with the funding for the line, we will be pushing for a third station,” she said. “They’re proceeding as though they have the money already, so maybe they know something we don’t know.”
Lahti cited the example of the Millennium Line, which added stations like Lake City Way after the original line was launched.
“It was always planned for, but they phased it in,” she said. “If they said we could only have two, at this point we would be pushing for some type of phase-in for a third.
“But obviously the optimum situation is they would just put the third in right away.”
Simone Blais – © Coquitlam Now 2009
Public consultation meetings on the preliminary design of the Evergreen Line have now wrapped up.