Ecstatic Coquitlam mayor rides SkyTrain to city centre after long wait

BY JENNIFER SALTMAN

On Tuesday, Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart had the opportunity to do something he’s been waiting to do for decades — ride the SkyTrain into the centre of his city.

“This is an exhilarating day,” Stewart said. “We’ve been waiting for the opening of SkyTrain to Coquitlam Centre for all of my adult life. It’s been 25, 30 years in the making and we’re just ecstatic.”

Stewart was among a small group of politicians and reporters who rode the new Evergreen Line Tuesday from Burquitlam station through Port Moody to the terminus at Lafarge Lake. Lougheed Town Centre station, the line’s first stop, was not included in the tour. The $1.43-billion, 11-kilometre line is expected to start running sometime before Christmas — a specific start date has not been revealed.

The ride began with a brief run above North Road before the train dipped underground for a two-kilometre trip through a tunnel.

Since construction began in 2013 there has been cause for several delays, including four sinkholes that appeared while the tunnel was being bored between Coquitlam and Port Moody.

Minister responsible for TransLink Peter Fassbender said constructing the tunnel was the project’s biggest challenge.

“Going through that tunnel you can see what a massive project that was,” he said. “At the end of the day, I know people are going to forget that we were delayed in the opening because of the tunnelling, but they’re going to be absolutely thrilled when they get on these cars and are able to travel throughout the entire region.”

Cost overruns for the tunnel problems and others that occurred during construction will be picked up by SNC-Lavalin, which led the consortium that built the line and has a fixed-price contract with the province, Fassbender said.

After exiting the tunnel just east of Barnet Highway, the train travelled at grade through Port Moody toward Coquitlam Centre station. From there, it became elevated for the last two stations: Lincoln and Lafarge Lake-Douglas.

“I thought it was fabulous — amazing actually,” Fassbender said while standing on the platform at the final station, with Douglas College and Town Centre Park in the distance.

“I thought it was fantastic to actually travel along something that we watched come out of the ground, and to see the development.

Politicians said the train will provide opportunities for growth in the region, promote healthier lifestyles by getting people out of their cars and make it easier for residents to get to Vancouver because they no longer have to rely on a bus.

The trip from Lafarge Lake-Douglas to Lougheed Town Centre takes 15 minutes. Going to Commercial-Broadway will take 30 minutes, and the ride to Waterfront will take 40 to 45 minutes. The line is expected to carry 70,000 passengers per day by 2021.

“It’s thrilling to ride this brand-new system,” remarked Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam MP Ron McKinnon. “It’s fresh, it’s out of the box, it runs smoothy, it’s fast, it’s efficient. It’s going to make a great change for our community.”

Construction is expected to be completed in the next couple of weeks, at which point TransLink will take control of the system for final operational testing. When that’s done, an opening date will be set.

“We’re looking forward to it,” said Stewart. “It’s going to be a great Christmas present.”

 

Everything is awesome when Lego and literacy unite

VICTORIA - The sounds of creativity echoed through the Greater Victoria 
Public Library's Central Branch today as Minister of Education Peter 
Fassbender was joined by young learners for a morning of reading and Lego 
building, celebrating the BC Summer Reading Club.
 This year's club theme, "Build It!" encourages kids to use technology, 
crafts, architecture and imagination to explore books and get a head-
start to hands-on learning. Offered at public libraries throughout the 
province, the Summer Reading Club builds literacy skills and encourages 
creative discovery.
"Reading is life's essential skill. The Summer Reading Club gives kids 
the tools to explore their own literacy journey, while discovering new 
books, new ideas and new stories. I know every child participating this 
summer is reaching new reading goals, keeping their reading skills sharp, 
and getting ready for the new school year in September." says Peter Fassbender, 
Minister of Education.
 The Summer Reading Club helps kids stick to their reading goals and 
prevents summer reading loss. Voluntary reading strongly encourages and 
establishes good reading habits, and has a positive connection to future 
success in school. Improving the literacy skills of all British 
Columbians is vital to the province's social and economic development.
 The Summer Reading Club reaches over 85,000 young learners during July 
and August. All public libraries in B.C. take part in the program. Each 
year the Ministry of Education provides $50,000 in Funding to the BC 
Library Association to co-ordinate the Summer Reading Club and provide 
materials to libraries.
 To connect with a local summer reading program, parents can contact their 
local library. A list of libraries is online at 
www.commons.bclibraries.ca