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Oct 15,2010 Tri City News


Work is continuing on the Evergreen Line for a spring construction start, and at least 30 Port Moody businesses will have to move as a result.

That's the word from the Ministry of Transportation, which has settled with some property owners and renters and is negotiating with others.

Properties affected are those closest to the CP Rail line in Port Moody, confirmed, Geoff Freer, senior project advisor for the PoMo section of the line.

Although it will be months before many of these business will have to move, the city has already calculated the impact on its annual tax rolls. According to Port Moody Mayor Joe Trasolini, a drop in the number of businesses will cost the city $200,000 in taxes.

"It's loss, loss, loss for the city, and can you tell me how we are supposed to pay for services that are required as the population increases?" said the mayor, who has concerns the city could also lose its right to charge fees for new development around Evergreen Line stations.

Meanwhile, the ministry is negotiating with local businesses to make sure buildings are cleared in time for a spring construction start.

Although he couldn't lay out any specifics, Freer said the ministry is working out compensation for about 10 property owners and 20 tenants of properties in areas that will be affected by the $1.4-billion line. Areas of concern include properties along Clarke Street and west of the Moody Street overpass that back onto the CP Rail line and east of the West Coast Express station, where land is needed for parking and access, Freer said.

Although rumours have suggested the number of businesses affected by the line as high as 40, Freer said that number is closer to 30 because some accommodations are being made.

Some businesses have already settled and moved, including most of those in a building on Clarke Street west of the Moody Street overpass, and Freer said negotiations are continuing with property owners and tenants, with agreements reached based on market conditions. In the case of landowners, compensation is based on appraisals by independent experts hired by government or the property owner, who gets reimbursed if they hire their own independent appraisers.

Tenants will also be reimbursed for their relocation costs, which are determined on a case-by-case basis, Freer said, and depend on market conditions.

"You look at all the various factors, business impacts, relocation costs, you look at all of those."

Expropriation is rarely used but sometimes property owners disagree with the compensation and these cases end up in B.C. Supreme Court.

Freer said although the ministry would like properties to be vacated by the spring construction start, flexible arrangements can be made. For example, a landowner can leave early if they need to or sell out and stay on with a renewable 30-day lease.

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