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Oct 20,2006

Evergreen Line's future uncertain

TransLink's decision earlier this week to approve $16 million for detailed design of the Evergreen Line may give some people the impression that rapid transit to the Tri-Cities is a sure thing. But, as was evident by the comments of some of the board's directors, it's anything but.

Port Moody Mayor Joe Trasolini, who described himself as a "very optimistic person" at Wednesday's meeting, added that, "This time, I am concerned."

While TransLink voted 11-1 to allocate the $16 million - with only Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan opposed - it's really not up to the regional transportation authority whether the line goes ahead. That decision will be made by Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon, who will either have to pony up the $400 million needed to cover the line's funding shortfall or start lobbying the federal government to do so.

Corrigan, the most outspoken member of the TransLink board, said he voted against allocating the $16 million because, even though he has always supported the Evergreen Line, it doesn't make financial sense to pour money into something that may never get built because its $970-million budget is $400 million short.

Where does this leave us? In limbo, waiting to see whether there's enough funding left over from projects like the 2010 Winter Olympics and the Gateway Program to make rapid transit to the Tri-Cities a reality. Only then will we know if Wednesday's decision was the right one.

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