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May 15,2003

One More try to get skytrain to coquitlam

By Leneen Robb - Staff Reporter - Now News

Coquitlam city council is making a last-ditch effort to convince TransLink to build a SkyTrain extension to the northeast sector - instead of rapid transit from downtown Vancouver to Richmond and the Vancouver International Airport.

The city's efforts, however, are becoming increasingly futile.

TransLink has already set up a Web site dedicated to the Richmond-Airport-Vancouver Project (RAVP), and the airport authority has pledged up to $300 million in funding - making it unlikely Coquitlam will overtake Richmond as TransLink's priority.

And because the RAVP is tied in with the Vancouver 2010 Olympic bid, if IOC officials announce July 2 that Vancouver has been chosen as the host city, Coquitlam's chances for SkyTrain would diminish further.

Nevertheless, at their meeting Monday, councillors voted to ask TransLink to "undertake a full review of the long-term potential impact the RAVP may have on its operating budget and on the regional bus system prior to approving the procurement phase of the RAVP."

Councillors fear that if TransLink goes ahead with the Richmond line, there won't be enough money left for the region's other transportation needs.

Council also voted to ask TransLink and the Greater Vancouver Regional District to build the Port Moody-Coquitlam SkyTrain extension before approving the bid procurement phase of the RAVP, and to renew its commitment to the Livable Region Strategic Plan - the blueprint for development in the Lower Mainland - which aims to protect the green zone, build "complete communities," achieve a compact metropolitan zone and increase transportation choice.

Some councillors, especially Louella Hollington, have said Coquitlam should refuse to participate in the plan - which calls for the city to roughly double its population to 206,000 and increase its employment to 71,000 by 2021 - unless rapid transit comes to the northeast sector.

Council has not formally backed Hollington's threat, however, despite holding one private and one public meeting on the issue.

Instead of making immediate plans to extend SkyTrain from Lougheed Town Centre to Coquitlam Town Centre (the so-called northwest corridor), TransLink has suggested a temporary, alternate route to run near the Riverview Hospital lands - raising council's suspicions that such a line would lead to the area being developed after the hospital is closed.

The "southeast corridor," which would run along Lougheed Highway or CP Rail's Sapperton line, is supposed to be a stopgap until SkyTrain is built.

Monday, however, councillors voted to tell TransLink they would prefer SkyTrain.

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