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Mar 12,2008 Tri City News

Port Coquitlam council voted to support the northwest Evergreen Line route despite the fact several councillors who voted in favour of the alignment admit the southeast route would be better for their city.

Several councillors expressed concern that if the Tri-Cities could not agree on a route, it could lead to delays from the provincial and federal government to pony up its share of the funding.

"I believe if there is not a consensus amongst the three municipalities, the money will go elsewhere pretty damn quick and it will be even longer before we see a line to Port Coquitlam," said Coun. Michael Wright.

The Evergreen Line depends on the provincial and federal government chipping in $820 million, with the remaining $580 million covered by TransLink.

There is no shortage of jurisdictions with their hand out to higher levels of government, as Vancouver is looking to extend the Millennium Line down Broadway to UBC and many communities south of the Fraser are looking to expand their bus systems.

Council supported the northwest route on the condition the line eventually extend into Port Coquitlam.

"If we look at this in a very selfish way, we would prefer the southeast," said Young. "Getting consensus with the northwest corridor and our neighbours to the east makes a lot of sense and it will hopefully get the job done."

Council addressed the issue after a public hearing before its meeting Monday night.

Residents who spoke at the hearing were largely in favour of the northwest route, which would run from Lougheed Town Centre in Burnaby along North Road to Port Moody, tunnel down Clarke Road hill and continue along the CP Rail tracks into Coquitlam, eventually running up Pinetree Way to Douglas College.

Email comments received by the city favoured the southeast route, which would run along the Lougheed Highway past Riverview Hospital to the same final destination. The southeast route would have stations along the Lougheed Highway, within a stones-throw of PoCo's border with Coquitlam.

"We look at a route that is going to be good for business in Port Coquitlam, and what is going to be good for residents because they are consumers," said Dan Olson, executive director of the PoCo Business Improvement Association.

Olson also pointed to what he called a duplication of services. If the Evergreen Line runs along the northwest route, it will service areas already covered by the West Coast Express and several B-Line buses, he said.

Not all councillors cast their vote for the northwest route, either.

"The southwest line is by far a better line for Port Coquitlam," said Coun. Greg Moore. "It serves our residents with a station at Pitt River [Road] and Lougheed."

Moore added that by negotiating with TransLink, the southeast route might even facilitate a station in the city.

Coun. Arlene Crowe also voted against supporting the northwest line, pointing out that Port Coquitlam's 60,000 residents deserved the line more than Port Moody's 30,000.

"Why would Port Moody take precedent over us?" she said. "I feel our taxpayers are paying their fair share of taxes toward TransLink and our congestion is worse than Port Moody's, so I am not going to support it."

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