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Jan 17,2005

Province has nothing to say on SkyTrain

By Leneen Robb - Staff Reporter - Now News

Jan. 17 was supposed to be Decision Day for Coquitlam - the day councillors would react to the province's response to a request for funding to extend SkyTrain to the northeast sector.

But Monday, councillors acknowledged that they still had not received a response as to whether Victoria would share some of its highly touted $2-billion budget surplus with them.

And some admitted that the lack of a response to a council resolution, plus a letter, sent to Premier Gordon Campbell and copied to local MLAs, meant the money would be a no-show.

"I can't believe we haven't had a letter saying Yes or No, but we have not," Coun. Diane Thorne said.

Thorne first proposed lobbying the province for a share of the budget surplus, saying that SkyTrain is superior to the tram-style system TransLink is working on for the northeast sector.

Shortly after announcing the surplus, the province allocated part of it toward the Richmond-Airport-Vancouver line, to ensure that that elevated transit system is in place before the 2010 Winter Olympics.

"If they're ignoring the first one, they're ignoring the second one," Coun. Kent Becker said, following Thorne's suggestion that the city send yet another request to the province.

Coun. Maxine Wilson suggested that local MLAs should be doing more to secure funding for the system several councillors have said the public favours.

"I say let's get a hold of our local MLAs, and what are they going to do to help us press our case?" she said.

Council agreed to have city manager Warren Jones phone Victoria in an attempt to secure an answer.

Following a discussion on whether Mayor Jon Kingsbury should ask TransLink to hold off on the tram-style LRT line until council knows for sure about possible funding, Kingsbury said he's in a difficult position.

The mayor, a strong proponent of the tram system, said TransLink is preparing to hire a project manager.

"I'd really like to know, too," Kingsbury said, referring to whether the province is going to share some of its surplus for an extension of the Millennium Line.

He said he thinks asking TransLink to hold off on the LRT project would "really hurt" Coquitlam, adding that if the process is stopped, it would take a month or two to get back on track.

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