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Sep 21,2009 Vancouver Sun


The City of Port Moody will consider restricting growth along the proposed $1.4-billion Evergreen Line amid fears the light rail line will never be built.

Mayor Joe Trasolini will make a motion at Tuesday's council meeting to amend the official community plan to slow growth along the 11-kilometre line.

The city has grown rapidly in the past 15 years, he said, after promises were made to build the line to connect Burnaby and Coquitlam via Port Moody.

But with the constant delays, the growth -- allowing for 10,000 people within a four-square-block area -- has begun to outpace 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."

Coun. Gerry Nuttall said he supports the move, noting the community is fed up with the lack of progress on both the Evergreen Line and the Murray Clarke Connector, both of which were approved under the region's livability plan.

He said he believes the community is also behind Trasolini.

"We've kept our part of the bargain; now it's time for the province," Nuttall said. "If we're to go on and willy-nilly develop and throw up highrises, the quality of Port Moody will [deteriorate] and nobody wants that."

Trasolini's recommendation comes in the wake of a recent report by Regional Transportation Commissioner Martin Crilly, who criticized TransLink for its proposed 10-year transit plan, saying it was unreasonable and that TransLink had to learn to live within its means.

The plan, which requires approval by Crilly and the regional mayors' council, said TransLink needs another $450 million annually to maintain and expand the transit system. Any less than that, TransLink said, and it can't afford to build and operate the Evergreen Line.

Despite TransLink's funding crisis, Transportation Minister Shirley Bond said Thursday the government will build the Evergreen Line but wouldn't say where the money would come from.

The provincial and federal governments have committed $800 million to the project and Bond said her ministry will work with TransLink to help raise its $400-million share. An Evergreen project update last week said construction on the 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.

The regional mayors' council will vote on TransLink's 10-year plan on Oct. 23.

TransLink spokesman Ken Hardie said Bond's insistence that the line will be built is good news. He said the province can move ahead on the Evergreen Line with the money it already has, with TransLink kicking in its share in later.

That was done in the case of the Canada Line, he said, but it was the province that 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.

Meanwhile, Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said he is confident the line will be built and wants to meet with the province, TransLink and the mayors.

"If I had any indication the line was not going to be built I would be more aggressive," he said.

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