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Port Moody wants to explore a third SkyTrain station further

Port Moody will pursue discussion with TransLink about a possible third SkyTrain station for the city to serve thousands of new homes anticipated in its west end.
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A steep gradient and geotechnical issues west of Queens Street would make construction of a third SkyTrain station in Port Moody a complicated and expensive proposition, says a consultant's report.

Port Moody will pursue discussions with TransLink about the feasibility and funding options for a possible third SkyTrain station in the city.

But some councillors aren’t optimistic they’ll bear much fruit.

Tuesday, a consultant’s report presented to council stated that while another station located on the Millennium Line at Queens Street or further west could be built, it might cost up to $100 million depending on the complexity of the construction project.

Allison Clavelle, a transportation engineer and principal at consulting company Urban Systems, said in her report that while the SkyTrain guideway that runs through Port Moody was originally designed to accommodate a future station at Queens Street, its proximity to the nearby existing station at Moody Centre likely means it wouldn’t generate much additional ridership.

But placing a station further west, where it could draw riders from potentially densifying neighbourhoods at Woodland Park and the old Andrés Wine property, would require existing tracks to be realigned — or even new tracks to be constructed— because of the area’s steeped gradient, boosting its budget to the upper end of the range.

Clavelle added TransLink could also ask additional costs like new cars to maintain service levels, as well as increased operations and maintenance requirements, also be paid for.

The big price tag gave some councillors pause on the plan that’s been a part of Port Moody’s master transportation plan for years, but really gained traction as the city considers future redevelopment plans that could add thousands of new homes in its west end.

“We have not maximized potential ridership at either of the two stations we already have,” Coun. Diana Dilworth said while Coun. Amy Lubik pondered whether the city should consider other amenities first.

“What else do we need in the city?” she asked. “We need to have conversations about priorities.”

In her report, Clavelle said possible funding options for a third station could include partnerships with developers building in the area. She pointed to Coquitlam’s Lincoln station that was paid for by that city, Coquitlam Centre mall and PPP Canada, a Crown corporation that facilitates public-private partnerships.

As well, the Capstan station along the Canada Line in Richmond is being paid for by a $7,800 levy on condo units being built by three developers in nearby projects.

Clavelle suggested a similar arrangement would mean an $18,000 surcharge for each of the 5,500 units anticipated to be in proximity to a new station in Port Moody.

Dilworth said the additional cost that would likely be downloaded to home buyers “flies in the face” of council’s commitment to improve housing affordability in the city.

Coun. Meghan Lahti said even before such a funding arrangement could be considered, the city would actually have to approve the construction of that many units.

“We’re going to have to put our money where our mouth is,” she said. “We’re actually going to have to approve development.”

But Coun. Hunter Madsen said development doesn’t necessarily have to be residential: Creating more job spaces that workers could get to by taking transit from other communities could also justify the expense of a new station.

“I’m sure TransLink would be thrilled with people taking transit into the city for jobs,” he said.

Either way, Mayor Rob Vagramov added, at this preliminary stage the idea is still worthy of further exploration.

“It’s not something that’s completely impossible,” he said. “We know it’s doable. Now we need to find out if it’s feasible.”