Province agrees to split costs with Burnaby on Cameron Station prep work

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan -
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan
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It seems a lot can happen in a few days, if the provincial government's response to an Evergreen Line funding issue is any indication.

Last Monday night, when Burnaby council met with city staff, the position of the province was that if the city wanted a future Cameron Station as part of the Evergreen Line, the city would have to pay the full $6-million cost of preparatory work on the guideway.

"But that was the [Evergreen Line] project office who denied it and so we figured that okay, if the project office says no, that doesn't mean that the [Transportation] Minister is going to say no," said Mayor Derek Corrigan in an interview Friday afternoon. "So we wanted to get out in public about it and say we really think they should make a commitment on this."

On Thursday afternoon, Burnaby City Hall did just that, sending out a press release in which it called it "perilously short-sighted of the provincial government to ignore the need for this station," considering the potential increased development slated for the area.

Burnaby has offered to cover half the cost of the work, up to $3 million using gaming funds, even though the province is the "traditional and appropriate funder of regional rapid transit."

According to a city planning report, the money will cover the cost of building taller columns to create a flat-enough section of guideway for the station, an additional set of track switches, and a contingency for possible environmental mitigation measures.

By Friday morning, the Ministry of Transportation was on board.

"The Province has offered to make provision for a future Cameron Station by modifying the Evergreen Line design. The Province is prepared to cover the costs exceeding $3 million including environmental mitigation and any overruns, if Burnaby pays the initial $3 million to modify the project to make provision for this future station," said a ministry spokesperson in an emailed statement to the NewsLeader.

"This approach is consistent with that taken for other requested additional stations along the line, including the Lincoln Station in Coquitlam."

Corrigan was pleased Friday afternoon when the NewsLeader gave him the news.

"That's good, that's good news. And it shows a level of cooperation that hasn't occurred in every instance. So we're real pleased that we can work together to try to at least protect this as a long-term interest."

As for Lincoln Station, Corrigan said that was added into the project at the request of Coquitlam and after receiving federal funding.

"But that seems to happen all too often in areas where there's a federal minister. You know, suddenly there's federal money to do an additional project in that riding. We didn't have that same kind of opportunity so we had to look for a way in which we could leverage a contribution into protecting that interest."

Last July, Canadian Heritage Minister and Tri-City MP James Moore announced $7 million in federal money for Lincoln Station, which will be built on a piece of mall parking lot contributed by the owners of Coquitlam Centre. It's expected additional funding will come from highrise developers in exchange for being allowed to build bonus density in the area.

As for Cameron Station, Corrigan said it's an important location with potential development likely coming at Lougheed mall and on the Coquitlam side of North Road. It would also provide better linkages to the Stoney Creek neighbourhood nearby.

Funding for construction of the station itself would have to eventually come from the province, TransLink in conjunction with the province, or possibly from developers, he said.

"For the long term it may not come to fruition, but it would be so much more expensive to try to do it in the future [without the design changes]. If we don't make sure that the opportunity is built in, it will never happen."

He said of the province, "I'm glad they saw the light."

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