News

Cameron Station dead over $1.5M?

It appears there is little hope a Cameron Street station will ever be built as part of the Evergreen SkyTrain Line.

At issue is $1.5 million, or the price of a fixer-upper in many parts of Metro Vancouver.

Last October, Burnaby city hall sent out a press release calling the province's refusal to fund design changes and preparatory work on the rapid transit line's guideway "perilously short-sighted."

Higher-density development expected in the area around Lougheed Town Centre and Cameron Street will create great demand for the SkyTrain line and Burnaby council believes there should be an additional station built eventually.

And while the money is not available now, such a station would be prohibitively expensive to build later unless preparatory work is done now.

Preliminary estimates of the work—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—was set at $6 million.

Burnaby council offered to split the cost with the province 50-50, with the city contributing up to $3 million in gaming funds to help make it happen.

The province responded that it would be willing to cover the costs exceeding $3 million.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said back in October that the city was trying to clarify where the province stood on the issue.

He noted at the time that, according to a city staff report, a significant component of the preliminary cost estimates was for uncertainty over possible environmental mitigation work.

They (the ministry) "know it shouldn't be above [$3 million] and if it is, it should be in a minor way," Corrigan said at the time.

Then his State of the City address last week, Corrigan said, "The provincial government refused our offer to pay 50 per cent of any additional costs, making the addition of another station in the future highly unlikely."

The transportation ministry said in a statement Monday that six months ago the provincial government "offered Burnaby the same opportunity to fund additional stations as other municipalities."

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

"The government was prepared to cover the costs exceeding $3 million, if Burnaby paid the initial $3 million to modify the guideway to make provision for a future station. Burnaby countered by asking that the initial $3 million be shared with the government of B.C. An agreement was not reached. Subsequently, the contract was awarded and construction is now underway."

Corrigan could not be reached for comment before the NewsLeader's deadline.

Coun. Colleen Jordan said on Monday that the province simply "weren't willing to come up with any money from the provincial side."

So with the province insisting Burnaby pay all of the first $3 million instead of splitting the cost, its refusal to prepare for a future station came down to a disagreement over $1.5 million.

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

twitter.com/WandaChow

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