Prime Minister Stephen Harper and B.C. premier Gordon Campbell joined forces for a feel-good announcement in Burnaby today (February 26) to confirm they will pony up for the long-awaited rapid-transit line through Vancouver’s northeastern suburbs.
“We will build the Evergreen Line,” Harper told cheering party supporters and local politicians at the TransLink operations centre.
Earlier on in his speech, Harper said, “Consensus on one issue was very clear. We all want to put Canadians to work now building the bridges, roads, and other public transit facilities needed to generate long-term economic growth tomorrow.”
In his remarks, Campbell gave credit to Harper’s right-hand man in B.C.—Heritage Minister James Moore, the MP for Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam.
“Prime minister, I want to join with you in recognizing the work of James Moore, who has been a strident advocate for the Evergreen Line expansion,” Campbell said. “I don’t know if you noticed, because you were looking out to the audience, but when you announced that you were going to be full partners in the Evergreen Line, [B.C. transportation minister] Kevin Falcon almost hit the roof. So I just want to say thanks to Kevin and James for the work they have done.”
A joint federal-provincial press release issued today confirmed Harper’s government is committing $350 million in additional funding from the Building Canada Fund for the $1.4-billion rapid-transit line, which would connect Burnaby to Coquitlam and Port Moody.
The 2008 federal budget already pledged $66.7 million for the line, according to the release.
The provincial contribution is $410 million, and TransLink’s share is $400 million. The remaining $173 million is expected to come from the private sector or “transit-oriented land development”, the release states.
Harper also said, “From coast to coast to coast, we are working with provinces and territories to cut red tape and get projects up and running. Here in the Lower Mainland we’re moving forward on several ambitious infrastructure initiatives, and, as our gateway to India, China, and the rest of the Asia-Pacific, British Columbia has a unique role to play in building the Canada of the future. That’s why it’s so imperative that we continue to build the infrastructure needed to speed the flow of people and goods through the Lower Mainland.”
In another press release issued today, B.C. NDP transportation critic Maurine Karagianis questioned whether TransLink, facing a yearly deficit of over $100 million, will be able to match the federal funds.
“Today’s announcement isn’t anything new on the Evergreen Line,” Karagianis said in the release. “We always knew the Federal government would have to step in and help. The real news people are waiting for is when Campbell will get his act together and finally deliver.”
Coquitlam MLA Diane Thorne claimed in the same release, “Today marks the fifth time the Campbell government has promised the Evergreen Line.
“The last thing we need is more announcements, photo ops, broken promises and delays; we need Campbell to stop stalling and finally start construction on a route he promised over five years ago,” Thorne said.