Mar 19,2008 Tri City News

Tri-City councils' support of the northwest Evergreen Line route will have a "strong influence" on the final decision, says B.C.'s minister of transportation.

Kevin Falcon told The Tri-City News Tuesday that he must now review with TransLink feedback from municipalities before making a final decision but the consensus "is obviously something that will very strongly influence the final decision that we're going to make this spring."

He did not specify when that decision will be made or when the bidding process will begin, saying only, "As quickly as I possibly can responsibly."

Councils were given until March 17 to recommend a route preference for the SkyTrain-type transportation line. Port Moody, Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam councils all endorsed the northwest route, which would run from the existing Lougheed Town Centre station, down North Road, along the CP Rail tracks in Port Moody and along the Barnet Highway corridor to Douglas College in Coquitlam's Town Centre. The line is expected to be complete by 2014.

"We really appreciate the speedy work that the councils undertook," Falcon said. "I thought all three of them handled it in a very professional, competent manner."

Funding is still a question mark, however. So far, $877 million has been raised, including the federal government's recently announced share and $810 million promised by the province and TransLink. That leaves a shortfall of $523 million, which will likely be filled from a combination of federal contributions and equity through a public-private partnership.

Conservative MP James Moore (Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam) told The Tri-City News that money talks will commence after a route is chosen, a business plan is developed and a public-private funding partner is secured.

"The federal Conservative government is a full partner in the Evergreen SkyTrain extension and I am in constant contact with the federal and provincial infrastructure ministers to make sure the project is on track," Moore said.

Port Moody Mayor Joe Trasolini said he's confident the route wishes of Tri-City mayors will be respected.

"It looks like we're moving forward," he said.