Senior governments should fund Evergreen gap

By Fin Donnelly, Coquitlam NOW September 24, 2010

Have you noticed the amount of road construction in our area lately? It seems you can't go anywhere without running into some kind of road construction project. That's your tax dollars at work, much of it from the so-called "stimulus" funding.

Now ask yourself why a $574-million funding gap still exists for the well overdue $1.4-billion Evergreen Line, the number one transportation infrastructure project in the Lower Mainland. Why hasn't the federal government dedicated any of this stimulus money to fund the gap?

Well that's exactly what I have asked the prime minister. In fact, I have started a campaign to "Fund the Gap, Build the Line." If you would like to sign on or find out more information, please visit www.FinDonnelly.ca.

Recently, I have been out on the doorstep asking people what issues are on their minds. Some mention the "Nevergreen" Line, because they doubt it will ever be built.

The Evergreen, or Port Moody-Coquitlam (PMC) Line as it was called back when it was first announced in 1993, has been delayed four times in the past two decades. Barring the last delay, the line would have been completed this year. As it stands now, the completion date is set for 2014. However, there is still the issue of the $574-million shortfall.

The provincial government is hoping the private sector will come forward and fund this gap. This is not going to happen. They know this, and need to get on with doing the right thing -- fund the gap and build the line.

The TransLink Mayors' Council is talking about raising property and gas taxes in order to fund the project. I say rather than turning to local government, both senior levels of government should dedicate $287 million each to fund this gap.

Call it stimulus funding; call it what you like -- just dedicate the funding and get on with building this line.

If we want to encourage people to get out of their cars, then we must offer convenient, efficient alternatives.

Investing in the Evergreen Line will stimulate the economy by creating over 9,000 new construction jobs.

By 2020, it is projected to service over 70,000 riders, easing congestion on our roads and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 4.7 million tonnes. It will help curb urban sprawl, encourage development around stations and allow existing neighbourhoods to maintain their character. That's the kind of development that builds healthy, sustainable communities.

The Tri-Cities is well overdue for public transit infrastructure; it's the only regional centre within the Livable Regional Strategic Plan not connected by rapid transit. Let's fund and build the Evergreen Line now.

Fin Donnelly is MP for New Westminster-Coquitlam and Port Moody

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