Feb 8,2011 Tri City News

By Gary McKenna - The Tri-City News
Published: February 08, 2011 5:00 PM
Updated: February 08, 2011 8:33 PM

Another hurdle in the effort to bring rapid transit to the Tri-Cities was jumped last week when the province announced the Evergreen Line has received the necessary environmental approvals.

The $1.4-billion transit project, which proponents say will take 60,000 motorists off the road by 2020, received its environmental certificate outlining more than 150 commitments that must be followed.

One of the key components involves sediment-control structures to keep silt and other debris from running into creeks and tributaries along the line. Riparian areas affected by construction will have to be re-vegetated and a noise and vibration management plan will be used to mitigate the impacts on businesses and residents. As well, municipalities will be given up to 72 hours notice of construction work that takes place beyond municipal noise bylaws, according to the province.

But while the environmental approvals are welcome news to Port Moody Mayor Joe Trasolini, he said it does not resolve the biggest issue holding up the project.

Funding concerns continue to be a problem as the region waits for an additional $400 million from TransLink to cover construction costs on the 11 km line.

“It’s nice to see that it passed the assessment but it points the finger at the real issue,” he said. “The real issue is the funding formula has not been resolved yet.”

A resolution to the funding problem has been hampered by the fact that both provincial parties are currently in the midst of leadership campaigns, he said, adding he uncertainty in Victoria has slowed down any progress at resolving the funding issues.

But Trasolini said some of the leadership candidates have made comments that re-assure him the Evergreen Line will move forward.

The Port Moody mayor said he likes a proposal put forward by Port Coquitlam MLA and NDP leadership candidate Mike Farnworth that would use the provincial carbon tax to fund major transit infrastructure projects.

In the BC Liberal leadership race, he said that Christy Clark, a former Port Moody resident and MLA, also appears to understand the importance of the Evergreen Line project.

“Having been from Port Moody, she knows the northeast sector very well,” he said. “All along I have heard her support the Evergreen Line.”