In the face of financial boondoggles like the Olympic Village possibly leaving Vancouver taxpayers on the hook for $875 million, Coquitlam mayor Richard Stewart is wholly confident that the Evergreen Line will soon break ground.
“This is the one that is going ahead next and I have no hesitation in staking my reputation,” Stewart told the Straight in a telephone interview. “This one will be next, the funding will be in place this spring, and we are working on it right now.”
Upon completion, the proposed $1.4-billion Evergreen Line would connect Burnaby’s Lougheed Town Centre with Coquitlam Town Centre via Port Moody by 2014.
Stewart said that Metro Vancouver residents should not worry about funding problems like those that the Olympic Village has encountered. “They are completely different styles of projects,” he explained.
According to Stewart, unlike the Olympic Village, the sort of private funding that the Evergreen Line is relying on is not tied to real estate, but is instead a “private business arrangement” related to future operating revenues.
“Those revenues are very predictable; they don’t fluctuate with economic times,” he said.
“There are going to be some that will take, perhaps a political position that is more negative,” Stewart continued. “I have no interest in a political position at this point.”
In November, Port Moody mayor Joe Trasolini expressed fears that the global financial crunch could put funding for the Evergreen Line at risk.
The rest of Canada will be lining up for projects to be done, and I’m afraid that if we wait until after the Olympics, the money will be gone,” Trasolini told the Straight.
Stewart remained unshaken. “I am looking forward to standing there with a shovel and breaking ground on a project that we have waited 20 years for,” he said.
The B.C. government has committed $410 million to the project, TransLink agreed to spend $400 million, and the federal government has provided $67 million, according to a April 18 TransLink news release. Dave Crebo, spokesperson for the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, previously told the Straight that the federal government has since earmarked an additional $350 million for the line.
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