Aug 31,2010 Tri City News
Port Moody changed tack once again in its quest for Evergreen Line stations, opting to take the two locations decided on by the provincial government and leaving plans for a third, western station up in the air.
The decision — an about-face from one made just last month, when council supported stations near Elgin Street and at Ioco, with the possibility of a third at the West Coast Express station — came at a special council meeting held last week.
Council’s support for the western station was abandoned in light of information from the Ministry of Transportation that indicated Port Moody would need to grow by about 16,000 residents at its western end to merit a station there, and the $20-million cost of the station would need to be paid for by developers.
“I don’t believe the majority of residents support densification on the scale that would be required to support a station at that end of Port Moody,” said Coun. Karen Rockwell.
She described the Western Station Committee, which has been lobbying for a third station at PoMo’s west end, as a group of self-interested residents working with the Andres Wines property owners as they aim to cash in on redeveloping the area.
Coun. Meghan Lahti agreed, saying council had been led “severely off course” by a group of well-meaning individuals in the community.
“They have an agenda, they’re working hand-in-hand with a landowner who has a vested interest in creating a need for development in Port Moody. This is the tail wagging the dog and it’s got to stop,” Lahti said.
The Western Station Committee’s (WSC) John Grasty said he hadn’t met John Peller of Andres Wines until last week, and he’s disappointed council is now backing a station that will only add congestion in the middle of Port Moody.
“The reaction of people since the meeting is that of astonishment, of anger,” he said.
Council members were relying on correspondence circulated by the Moody Centre Community Association, Grasty said, yet ignored information from the WSC, calling it a special interest group. He doesn’t agree that 16,000 new residents would be needed to warrant a western station, noting a proper application of transit-oriented development criteria would yield the true figures.
“The Western Station Committee has spent an inordinate amount of time studying what transit-oriented development is because we want what’s best for Port Moody,” Grasty said. “But council has sat on their hands. They have no vision.”
Coun. Gerry Nuttall made similar comments at last week’s meeting, saying he supports a western gateway to Port Moody that would provide residents there with the services they deserve and the entire city with the economic development it needs.
“If that group can come together and formulate a plan that would benefit Port Moody, I think they have a right to present it to us,” Nuttall said. “I’m getting the feeling we resent the fact they’re developing a plan but it’s something I feel we should be developing in our own OCP.”
Council approved a motion to remind the Evergreen Line project team of its 32 requirements for a SkyTrain line and, should there be an opportunity for a third station, that it be within one block of Queens Street.
Mayor Joe Trasolini and Coun. Nuttall voted against the motion, with the mayor noting there is little call for development near the West Coast Express station.
“It leaves the rest of Port Moody not served,” Trasolini said. “I do not buy the argument that there is no potential for growth other than highrises at western Port Moody. I cannot accept something being given to us that will leave that part of Port Moody unserved. The economic development opportunities will evaporate.”
Council also endorsed the staff report on the Evergreen Line’s environmental assessment certificate application, with minimal concerns raised about tree replacement guarantees and pedestrian overpasses.
NOTE: The headline in this story is somewhat misleading, although the text itself is more accurate. Previously, a council resolution was passed to advise the Evergreen Project Team of the preference, in a two station model, of the stations being west, near Queens/Elgin Street and one East near Ioco. This was consistent with the original 'list of conditions' passed by council in 2008 for acceptance of the alignment. Evergreen Line Project subsequently advised that they were fixed on WCE and Ioco as the two primary station locations, and a possible third station could be located to the west. They further advised that a station at Elgin St would have to be elevated 25m to accomodate the Murray Clarke connector alignment, and that a 'portal' station was not feasible due to technical and environmental issues with the tunnel, grade and school house creek. The council resolution at the August 26 meeting was to 'accept, although not our preference' the 2 station locations, and to re-iterate our list of conditions which included a western station. The station may be 'up in the air', due to the Evergreen Projects requirement for increased density (10,000 'riders' - combined residential / employment - they have stated) and that the development must pay for the station ($ 20-30 million+ depending on the location). A developer contribution of that magnitude would require development in the range of 15,000+ residences , with 100% of the development revenues being allocated to a single project, a skytrain station.