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Evergreen Line has landed - a little bit

It's one small step for Port Moody and one giant leap of faith for the Evergreen Line. The Evergreen Line project board asked Port Moody city council last week to sign off on making a tiny 2.5 sq.

It's one small step for Port Moody and one giant leap of faith for the Evergreen Line.

The Evergreen Line project board asked Port Moody city council last week to sign off on making a tiny 2.5 sq. m sliver of land a municipal right-of-way to accommodate the future construction of the Evergreen Line.

Council voted unanimously in favour of the plan last Tuesday, marking TransLink's very first acquisition of land in Port Moody for a municipal right-of-way for the Evergreen Line, according to city spokesperson Leslyn Johnson.

The project bought the small triangle of land at the rear of OpenRoad Mazda's auto dealership at 3170 St. Johns St. in order to widen Golden Spike Way and make room for the planned rapid transit line through Port Moody between Coquitlam Centre and Burnaby's Lougheed Town Centre.

The OpenRoad Auto Group declined to say how much the Evergreen Line Project paid for the tiny parcel of land and neither the Evergreen Line board - which is made up of members of both the Ministry of Transportation and TransLink - nor the transportation ministry replied to The Tri-City News before deadline Tuesday.

"They came down here and worked out whatever the numbers were and because it's such a small piece of land, it was no big deal," said OpenRoad Mazda general manager Kirt Gill. "It probably didn't take more than 15 or 20 minutes to work out a figure for it."

And while the acquisition of land for Evergreen appears to bode well for the long-delayed construction of the rapid transit line, the board's purchase of the smallest section of land required first may suggest a hesitancy to jump in with both feet on the project, said Port Moody's director of planning and development Tim Savoie at the May 24 council meeting.

"There is no agreement with the owner of the adjacent property. So what they're doing is purchasing just that little triangle in advance of any further negotiations with the adjacent owners. So if for some reason it never happens to the east, then this will be just a small portion that remains essentially land-locked," Savoie said.

Next door to OpenRoad Mazda is Port Moody Auto and Air, which shared a building with EBI Cruiser Parts before the latter was forced out earlier this year to make way for the Evergreen right-of-way, although the land under the building has yet to be sold.

Port Moody Auto and Air co-owner Shelly Smith told The Tri-City News on Monday that she believed her company will stay put for the time being but nobody could tell her for certain.

"We've been left in the dark," Smith said. "TransLink didn't come to us and they didn't come to the neighbours. They only came for EBI."

B.C. Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom responded to criticism in the B.C. Legislature Monday over the Evergreen Line's delay, saying the province and federal government have put up their share of funding for the project but are still waiting for TransLink.

"We have said we are committed to the Evergreen line. We have $410 million committed to that project. The federal government has $417 million committed to that," Lekstrom said. "We are waiting for TransLink and the mayors council, working together, to secure their funding. When that is concluded, [Evergreen] will proceed."

tcoyne@tricitynews.com