Third Evergreen station & Murray-Clarke connector are crucial, says committee…

The Editor,

A copy of a letter to Shirley Bond, B.C.’s minister of transportation and infrastructure:

I represent the Port Moody Western Station Committee, an organization comprised of a diverse range of more than 50 local residents, property owners and business operators working collaboratively on a volunteer basis to facilitate a third Evergreen SkyTrain station located in western Port Moody. The committee has demonstrated broad-based local support for the station, given the many social, economic and environmental benefits that are anticipated to result.

We have shared a petition signed by more than 600 supportive Port Moody residents with various stakeholders, including the city, Evergreen Line company and TransLink’s board. Further, the Mustel Group conducted public opinion research demonstrating more than 70% of area residents support the third station proposed for western Port Moody. Two thirds indicated they would use the Evergreen Line if the western station was built, as compared with less than 25% in its absence.

Further to my letter dated Dec. 18, 2009, I am requesting clarification of your government’s plan to resolve the funding shortfall for the Evergreen Line posed primarily by TransLink’s inability to meet its funding obligation for the project. My previous inquiry also asked for your comment to resolve TransLink’s funding challenge to build the Murray-Clarke Connector in Port Moody.

The lack of certainty for Evergreen Line funding and a committed construction timetable is an item of critical concern to the Tri-Cities. I note that your government reconfirmed its support for the Evergreen Line in the Feb. 9, 2010 throne speech in stating, “The success of the new Canada Line has reinforced government’s commitment to invest record amounts in public transit, fix TransLink and get on with the Evergreen Line.”

As you may be aware, a “log-jam” has begun to impede this issue whereby the Evergreen Line company continues to look to the city of Port Moody for land use direction before confirming station locations yet the city, which is presently deliberating on a draft official community plan (OCP), has established a “zero to minimal growth” policy due to lack of certainty regarding the Evergreen Line. The City’s OCP deliberations have also been impacted by TransLink’s inability to deliver the long-promised Murray-Clarke Connector, which is as vital as Evergreen in reducing congestion and meeting the goals of the Gateway Project in the Tri-City area.

The city maintains that it has already permitted too much development for the existing transportation infrastructure. The city has stated in OCP deliberations that any new development flexibility will not be forthcoming unless or until the Evergreen Line and Murray-Clarke Connector projects are proceeding with firm tendering of construction contracts for these projects.

While there is both public and private scepticism over the likelihood of the Evergreen Line being built at all, Western Station Committee members and numerous additional local stakeholders remain optimistic that the line will be built as promised along with parallel work to complete the Murray-Clarke Connector.

Given that the Evergreen Line project cannot proceed to tendering of bids until confirmation is received that all funds are secured, we are asking that your ministry move to reconfirm its commitment by closing the funding gap and including the Evergreen Line in the upcoming provincial budget.

Moreover, with the Murray-Clarke Connector remaining an integral component to Port Moody’s transportation system and a requisite requirement by the city when it approved support for Evergreen ALRT and the northwest alignment, what can the ministry do to create an avenue by which funding for the Murray-Clarke Connector is included in the Evergreen Line budget?

With an expected resolution to this budget shortfall, I am looking forward to seeing tenders for the Evergreen Line and Murray-Clarke Connector projects being put out to competitive bid very soon.

Port Moody and the rest of the Tri-Cities, its businesses and residents are anxious to see both these projects with shovels in the ground by the fall 2010.

John Grasty, Port Moody Western Station Committee

Western Evergreen Station & Murray Connector are crucial…

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