Port Moody residents spoke about SkyTrain in 2004 but their council is not obligated to listen.
Before council voted 4-2 in favour of the Evergreen Line’s northwest route at its meeting last week, some residents, as well as Coun. Shannon Watkins, questioned whether the city was required to abide by the results of a 2004 city referendum question on SkyTrain.
Of the 3,881 people who voted in that referendum, 73.25% voted No to the question, “Are you in favour of a SkyTrain route through Moody Centre?”
At the time, both the technology and the route were undecided but the question was intended to gauge public opinion on what was then an elevated SkyTrain proposal, said Mayor Joe Trasolini.
“The residents of Port Moody did not favour SkyTrain elevated along St. Johns Street,” he said. “The question was to help me in my arguments with the TransLink board and staff at the time. It was a negotiating stance that I wanted to put forward to TransLink to say, ‘Don’t even go there.’”
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Community Services said a referendum isn’t binding unless council is obligated to seek the consent of residents on an issue.
The 2004 council openly supported the southeast route along Lougheed Highway; last week’s vote in favour of the northwest route was because of the shift from an elevated system along St. Johns Street to the at-grade proposal along the CP Rail right-of-way, Trasolini said.
When the SkyTrain Millennium Line was being built eight years ago, there were plans for a line to Coquitlam Centre through Port Moody, also along the CP tracks, but those plans were later abandoned.
“We as a council would not have been in favour of anything elevated through Port Moody,” Trasolini said. “It seems like we’re going back and doing the same thing over again.
“But there’s no other way it can come through Port Moody. The community wouldn’t stand for it and council wouldn’t stand for it.”