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ROBBINS re-release Should the BC Liberal government hold a pre-emptive inquiry into the dubious LRT-Evergreen Line?
ROBBINS affirmed on potential Port Moody elected official's Translink-land purchase scandal  Mar 08, 2007

Another excellent ROBBINS ASK poll, produced in part by Jim Van Rassel in conjunction with Glen P. Robbins and Associates and ROBBINS Sce Research. A random sample of 520 residents in Port Moody, Coquitlam, and Port Coquitlam between October 20-25th, 2006. This poll features a margin of error of 4.65%, 18 times out of 20 @97% competency/confidence. This poll was paid for (in part) by New Trend Optical, owner Jim Van Rassel (604) 942-9300; (604) 328-5398.

Question #1
Is it your opinion or your perception that the proposed Evergreen Line is another name given to Skytrain?
Yes    84 %
No    16 %
Question #2
In your opinion would you prefer?
A Skytrain from Lougheed Mall down Lougheed Highway to Town Centre in Coquitlam    63 %
A Skytrain from Lougheed Mall through Port Moody and Coquitlam to Town    23 %
Neither    14 %
Question #3
What is the likelihood that you would pay to use a new rapid transit system in this region?
Very Likely    21 %
Likely    26 %
Unlikely    24 %
Very Unlikely    28 %
Question #4
In your opinion if you could only have one of the following which would your prefer the government spend your tax dollars on?
Skytrain rapid transit from Lougheed Mall to Coquitlam Town Centre    53 %
The Twinning of the Port Mann bridge    25 %
Neither    22 %
Question #5
If provincial Premier Gordon Campbell led the way on financing Skytrain to the northeast sector with $600 million in borrowed capital would you support his BC Liberal party?
Yes    41.5 %
No    56.5 %
Question #6
If federal transportation Minister Lawrence Cannon led the way on financing Skytrain to the Northeast sector with $500 million in taxpayer dollars would you support his Conservative party?
Yes    37 %
No    63 %
Question #7
Do you support a $2.50 toll for the Port Mann Bridge?
Yes    28 %
No    72 %
Commentary
An overwhelming majority of respondents in the Northeast Sector of the lower mainland (Tri-City region encompassing Port Moody, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam) are of the opinion or have the perception that the Evergreen Line is in fact a Skytrain model for light rapid transit in the region, when in fact it is not.
The Evergreen Line is an ‘at grade’ light rail transit system which was excluded from questions in this poll on the basis that demand for it among Tri-City respondents in a recent ROBBINS ASK poll was in the single digits.
In this ROBBINS ASK poll, (the third such poll relating to this issue), we once again see that ‘Skytrain from Lougheed Mall to Town Centre in Coquitlam’ is the preferred method of light rapid transit demanded by residents of the region.
Slightly less than one-half of respondents indicated they were Very Likely or Likely to use a new rapid transit system. The majority of respondents who indicated they were V. Likely or Likely to use rapid transit (76%) also selected Skytrain down the Lougheed Mall to Coquitlam Town Centre in Question #2.
(41%) of respondents support BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell borrowing $600 million for Skytrain, and (37%) support Conservative Transportation Minister Lawrence Cannon using $600 million of taxpayer’s dollars for Skytrain. However more respondents who are Very Likely or Likely to use rapid transit support Gordon Campbell borrowing money while more respondents who are Unlikely or Very Unlikely to use rapid transit in the region support Conservative Transportation Minister Lawrence Cannon using $600 million of taxpayer’s money.
Although there is no precise evidence, we believe that some of the respondents who selected Very Likely and Likely (Q#3) as potential users of Skytrain in this poll who ALSO say they support Premier Gordon Campbell borrowing $600 million may be supporting him based on rapid transit coming to the region. This is based on the higher number of respondents who had difficulty choosing on the Campbell questions as opposed to the Lawrence Cannon question. We don’t have that inductive evidence to suggest the same speculation could be properly made in Question #6.
Although (28%) of respondents indicate they support a $2.50 toll on twinning the Port Mann Bridge, it is important to note that many of these respondents chose either (a) or (c) in Question #4. This suggests to us that respondents are being somewhat ‘strategic’ with their response.
There is sufficient evidence from (3) three ROBBINS ASK polls relating to rapid transit in the region, one in 2004, the results of which are posted at www.robbinssceresearch.com, and the others in the month of October 2006 (including this one) to indicate that Skytrain through the Lougheed corridor is the method of rapid transit demanded by residents of the Tri-City region. There is also some evidence to suggest that this sentiment is relatively consistent throughout all three municipalities/cities that comprise the Tri-City.
In a February 19, 2004 Translink issued a press release in which former Translink chair Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum indicated that ‘Skytrain is “not a done deal”. Within the context of that same press release we have a quote from Port Moody Mayor Joe Trasolini:
Mayor Trasolini indicated that over the last two weeks, he had to respond to a flood of inquiries from Moody Centre residents and businesses concerned with media coverage about what had been labeled as a done deal regarding Skytrain through Port Moody. Commenting on McCallum’s announcement, Trasolini said: “We knew all along that Translink would confirm our position on this. There are too many public officials involved in [rapid transit to the Northeast Sector] for anyone to get away with this kind of wishful prophecy.”
Mayor Trasolini feels that this will not affect Council’s position on a referendum on Skytrain through Port Moody. For Trasolini “…Skytrain through Port Moody must be the object of a public debate before a decision is made. Port Moody residents have to make up their mind between the benefits of Skytrain and its impact on our community, particularly on the heritage character of Moody Centre.”
The Port Moody Mayor reveals that he and others in Port Moody do not want Skytrain through Port Moody. To determine if citizens agree the City of Port Moody includes a question relating to ‘Skytrain through Port Moody’ in a referendum question posed during a by-election in Port Moody. On April 21, 2004 the following question is asked of Port Moody voters:
Are you in favour of a Skytrain route through Moody Centre?
(73.25%) of Port Moody residents vote against Skytrain through Moody Centre. Skytrain through the Lougheed corridor is not a question asked on the referendum presumably because this route is not through Port Moody. Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam do not ask any referendum questions, presumably because they do not hold by-elections.
There is no evidence to suggest that Skytrain through Lougheed Highway is not preferred by residents in the Tri-City region and in particular Coquitlam City. Should Coquitlam city council have held a referendum? There is evidence to suggest that Port Moody city council and the residents prefer the Skytrain down Lougheed corridor In a press release dated February 26, 2004 Director of Economic and Strategic Development Colleen Rohde states in an official press release:
PORT MOODY – The City of Port Moody goes to the polls on April 17 to elect a Councillor to a vacant seat. At the same time, voters will be asked their opinion on whether they support Skytrain through Moody Centre. Council is on record as preferring a south-east alignment of rapid transit along Lougheed Mall south-east along Lougheed Highway to Coquitlam Centre and the eastern boundary of Port Moody, rather than a route through Moody Centre, the heart of the City’s heritage area.
Despite this, there is no further information to follow-up this assertion provided until a press release is issued on October 15, 2006, which reflects the first evidence that politically the situation involving rapid transit in the region has changed materially from the date of the 2004 press release from Port Moody city hall praising Skytrain.
PORT MOODY – Today at a board meeting in Port Moody, TransLink approved in principle a light rail transit (LRT) line using the northwest corridor through Port Moody to Coquitlam Centre. Planning and design for this new transit system will commence shortly.
“It is timely and welcome that the Skytrain option has been eliminated and replaced by a more environmental and community friendly, and less costly light rail system,” said Port Moody Mayor Joe Trasolini. “It will provide a much needed rapid transit service to the growing Northeast Sector without being a blight on our landscape.”
At a recent meeting, Port Moody Council reaffirmed its support of LRT to the Tri-City area along the northwest alignment. LRT systems utilizing light rail technology are in wide use worldwide.
Port Moody Council has long been opposed to SkyTrain technology for the planned Northeast Sector rapid transit extension. Skytrain’s intrusive elevated guideway through Port Moody’s historic downtown core would have a significant negative impact on area businesses and residents. In April, 2004, Port Moody residents voted against a referendum question asking if they were in favour of Skytrain through Moody Centre.
Although Port Moody Mayor Joe Trasolini indicates that it is “timely and welcome the Skytrain option” have (sic) been “eliminated”, there is no evidence or explanation for how the at grade LRT decision was arrived at. Moreover Mr. Trasolini’s statement that “Port Moody Council has long been opposed to Skytrain technology for the planned Northeast Sector rapid transit extension” is false. It is refuted by the earlier statement made in the press release of February 26, 2004 by Port Moody Economic and Development Minister Rohde who states “Council is on record as preferring a south-east alignment of rapid transit along Lougheed Mall south-east along Lougheed Highway to Coquitlam Centre and the eastern boundary of Port Moody,…”
How precisely did Port Moody city council change its mind? Did new councilors Mike Clay and Shannon Watkins alter the balance of opinion on city council regarding rapid transit? There is no evidence in Ms. Rohde’s press release to suggest that council’s opinion on rapid transit (against Skytrain through Port Moody) was divided. What is the record of this council in 2004 and how did it evolve to 2006? Is it possible the two rookie councillors were hoodwinked?
Our recent ROBBINS ASK poll October 13, 2006 reveals that only 09% of the Tri-City area including those in Port Moody supports the LRT. There does not appear to be any evidence which (a) refutes the ROBBINS ASK poll or in the alternative supports the decision to go to LRT, and (b) no mention of, nor any evidence that Skytrain down the Lougheed corridor is not demanded by Tri-city residents or more specifically Port Moody residents.
How was the decision to go to an LRT system arrived at, considering that some considerable effort was undertaken to remove Skytrain through Port Moody and Coquitlam as an option? There must be evidence of this at Translink, and at a minimum in council records in Port Moody which would have supported Mayor Joe Trasolini’s press release. We also make special note that the 2004 press release is issued by the Economic Development officer, while the 2006 press release is issued by the Mayor.
There is a reasonable amount of evidence to deduce that Skytrain through Port Moody and Coquitlam is not in demand by either the public, and at least one city council (albeit the one with the least population-Port Moody). There is also evidence to deduce that Skytrain through the Lougheed corridor (and Port Coquitlam) is demanded by most of the public, and at least one city council…Port Moody. There is no evidence that the public supports LRT. Yet, Port Moody city council changes its mind from the “preferred” system of Skytrain down the Lougheed corridor and chooses LRT through Port Moody. Wouldn’t it have been somewhat reasonable to deduce that if Port Moody residents DID NOT want Skytrain through Port Moody (2004 referendum) that they may in fact not prefer ANY rapid transit through Port Moody?
The response to Question #1 in this ROBBINS poll is cause for some serious concern. Obviously respondents throughout the Tri-City and in particular Port Moody are unawares that the Evergreen Line is NOT Skytrain. They are of the opinion and perception that in fact IT IS. How does this happen? Is it because the public in the Tri-City region isn’t paying attention, or was this politically manipulated? Do we have sufficient elements of evidence to suggest that there may be a breach of trust involving potentially over one billion dollars of taxpayer money, and of more immediate concern $16 million in design costs? Just as criticisms were leveled at the Glen Clark BC NDP government for having ‘no plans’ for the fast ferries at a cost of $500 million, where is the plan, and where is the comprehensive public consultation for the LRT through Port Moody?
It is interesting to note that the LRT was reported to be costing over one billion dollars if it is completed earlier than 2011. This would have brought its costs closer to projected costs for Skytrain down the Lougheed corridor which was substantially less expensive than Skytrain through Port Moody. LRT is slightly under one billion dollars if construction is delayed. Would Skytrain down Lougheed be similarly less expensive if construction were delayed? Was the reporting of these costs in the manner they were (as just below a billion) without benefit of a cost comparison with Skytrain down Lougheed purposefully manipulated by the local press in conjunction with city officials in order to underscore that the LRT is a little cheaper than the Skytrain down Lougheed Highway (which is just over a billion), and to keep the citizens and the taxpayers in the dark so that questions would or could not be asked or comparisons made?
It is also interesting to note that in this poll, there are approximately (07%) of respondents who support Conservative Transportation Minister Lawrence Cannon using $600 million in taxpayer dollars who do NOT support Gordon Campbell borrowing $600 million for the Skytrain project. (We used the $600 million amount in the question to conform more with the costs of Skytrain down Lougheed corridor (including the money Translink presently has available for the project)). In combination this provides a hint that there are nearly one half of respondents in the Tri-city who are willing to pay that price for the Skytrain system, with those two politicians in place. There are also as many who are willing to pay that price for the Skytrain system, which do not support those two politicians. This means that if these latter respondents are voters than they aren’t supporting Premier Gordon Campbell or Conservative Transportation Minister Lawrence Cannon. Does this make them BC New Democrats or Greens by process of elimination? If so, where are the BC New Democrats on this issue and why aren’t they doing more investigation?
This may not be sufficient evidence to support a conclusion that residents of the Tri-city accept the cost of Skytrain over the less expensive LRT; it does however suggest that without a proper comparison, the argument that the LRT was selected over Skytrain because it is cheaper may be spurious, particularly when we note the lack of support for LRT through Port Moody and Coquitlam in our ROBBINS ASK poll of Tri-City respondents in early October 2006, and the fact that Port Moody residents denied by a large margin at least one model of rapid transit through their city in a 2004 referendum. Indeed, there this plenty of evidence to suggest that Tri-City residents were never provided with sufficient and timely information to debate or consider any of the information line with respect to the LRT, now known as the Evergreen Line.
A Google search where the titles “Evergreen Line” “Port Moody” “Coquitlam” reveals reference to an Evergreen Line sometime in early 2006 in the foreign Rail niews website. A search under Tri-City News, Evergreen Line reveals a report under British Columbia Transportation Premier Gordon Campbell in early 2006, more than 15 months after the initial press release from Port Moody city media contact Jim McIntyre, Deputy City Manager, dated October 15, 2004. It should be noted that this at grade LRT (not Skytrain) is not referred to as the Evergreen Line in this October 2004 press release.
It should also be noted that a provincial election was held six months after the issue of this press release in May 2005, and Municipal elections were held in November 2005. Most of the press releases that begin to refer to the LRT as the Evergreen Line (there is an Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam near where the proposed end of the LRT would be) begin in earnest in the summer of 2006 ALMOST TWO YEARS AFTER THE PRESS RELEASE FROM PORT MOODY CITY ANNOUCING AGREEMENT IN PRINCIPLE FOR LIGHT RAPID TRANSIT IN PORT MOODY and the NORTHEAST SECTOR dated October 15, 2004.
We have sufficient evidence to determine that at least one form of rapid transit through Port Moody (Skytrain) was not acceptable to citizens (ROBBINS poll 2004). This is confirmed by a press release from the City of Port Moody issued February 28, 2004, and from a referendum question on the issue from a Port Moody by-election dated April 24, 2004. Between this period of time, February-April 2004 and October 2004-five months- we have no evidence or foundation to support the eventual choice for LRT. There is also no evidence to support why Skytrain down the Lougheed corridor was abandoned.
We cannot find any consistent evidence, or evidence at all that any comprehensive discussion or debate occurs in the media or in public forums after the press release of October 2004 announcing the selection of LRT. Also we cannot find any evidence of the LRT being named the Evergreen Line at this time. It is not until long after the provincial general election in May 2005, (in fact the beginning of 2006) that there is even a hint of discussion relating to neither the LRT, nor any reference to the LRT being renamed The Evergreen Line.
It is certainly reasonable to presume that some impetus with respect to the development of the strategies relating to any rapid transit would be set aside during the election periods noted. However, there is little if any discussion of rapid transit or the LRT during either of the elections. At least very little we could find. There are new council members in Port Moody and a new mayor and council members in Coquitlam. Why don’t we have any discussion of decision provided through a press release of Port Moody Mayor Joe Trasolini through these elected officials? Certainly, Doug McCallum losing the mayor’s seat in Surrey and his Translink chair position, as well as former Coquitlam mayor Jon Kingsbury losing his mayor’s chair and seat on Translink’s board should have provoked new discussions relating to the LRT amongst council which had undertaken only little public discussion up until this point. What happened to the Skytrain down Lougheed corridor option during this period? Why haven’t any of the city councils in Port Moody, Coquitlam, and Port Coquitlam raised this discussion?
When ROBBINS ASK President Glen P. Robbins asked former Coquitlam mayor Jon Kingsbury last week about recent the approval of $16 million in design expenditures through Translink against a backdrop of “unlikely development” he replied “the LRT Evergreen Line is destined to get done sooner or later”. ROBBINS ASKs “if there is no basis from which to conclude that the LRT now Evergreen Line is the right choice for, or the choice of Tri-City residents, why spend $16 million on design.” It would appear based on the history of this project that the answer might simply be ‘politics’. Once the $16 million has been spent on design for the LRT it becomes even more difficult to unwind the project which we have reasonably shown has commenced without any proper bona fides in place in terms of public acceptance, or on any real basis of understanding of why it is the best model for this region. Further, there doesn’t appear to be any hurry to proceed with any new activity relating to the LRT because the likelihood of it proceeding ANY TIME SOON is slim. It is also interesting to note that both the local community papers namely the Tri-City news and Coquitlam Now, each owned by elements of a newspaper oligarchy in British Columbia published front page headlines which alluded more to the Evergreen Line passing hurdles, and not so much dealing with the major obstacles of insufficient funding.
In addition, ROBBINS through a history of surveys and polls has revealed that without any doubt Skytrain down the Lougheed corridor is far and away the choice of respondents in the region who appear to have a clear understanding of the different route alternatives, and clearly reject the LRT through Port Moody city and Coquitlam. Some of ROBBINS evidence has been used by the City of Port Moody itself including elected officials and managers in the past, apparently when it served their purposes.
Port Moody’s own history of late has been contentious. There have been very public disagreements over the way in which the Boathouse restaurant won approval for Rocky Pointe Park. The owner of a longtime restaurant in the area, the Flying Fish has sued the City over alleged irregularities relating to the bidding process for the restaurant. The Boathouse restaurants are owned by the Spectra Group who are significant donors to the Gordon Campbell BC Liberals.
ROBBINS ASK President Glen P. Robbins has been informed by at least one well known very credible Vancouver reporter that a number of title searches of land along the Canada line reveal ownership by individuals or majority shareholders of companies with close ties to the Premier or to his party. Would a similar title search along St. John’s in Port Moody reveal any information which might provide us with answers to our questions about what actually motivated the direction of rapid transit in the region?
There have also been arguments relating to the change of development for the restaurant site at Rocky Pointe park which although not illegal, seem to match a similar pattern of ‘finesse’* we have witnessed with the LRT Evergreen Line’s development. At a minimum, residents in the Tri-City residents who use the marina are angry that the restaurant will now encumber much of the parking area they have used for years.
*By ‘finesse’ I mean a process of somewhat dubious public debate and poor dissemination of information and news, followed by a political decision which than becomes difficult to unwind owing to the ‘work’ and resources which immediately follows this political decision, thus in large measure entrenching a decision which may or may not have had the bona fides to support it in the first place.
It reminds me somewhat of the time I hired a contractor to look at my tiled floors because a small corner was missing, the tile was older and we were considering new one. We weren’t sure we were going to proceed. The contractor than proceeded to rip the tile back even further from where the piece was missing in the corner making it impossible for us not to replace the tile
There is no question in my mind that an inquiry of some type needs to occur BEFORE this rapid transit process of LRT progresses too far. I am thinking specifically of the approval of the $16 million recently approved by Translink for design. All three Translink participants from this region including Port Moody Mayor Joe Trasolini, Coquitlam Mayor Maxine Wilson, or Port Coquitlam Mayor Scott Young, voted for the $16 million dollar design. Is this the beginning of potential breach of trust allegations against members of Translink and elected officials?
It is interesting that a number of politicians have told me at one time or another that polls are for dogs. The obvious implication is that to these politicians public opinion doesn’t matter, or at least the public opinion as described in one of my polls, or polls conducted by another firm. I admit that people who are democratically elected should lead, and public opinion polls can be considered as they like.
We believe that our business mandate to be the only true independent public opinion pollster anywhere has manifested in particular with the issuance of this third ROBBINS ASK poll (see ROBBINS Sce Research). We believe that with the help of independent business and with our own resources, we have developed the only model in existence today which could (or would) make the case that politicians and officials involved with the LRT (now known as the Evergreen Line) may NOT be acting in the public’s best interests with large sums of the public’s money. In a case of who is guarding the guards, ROBBINS ASK irrefutably makes the business case for independent and private oversight of government activity through research and publication and with the assistance of the knowledge and opinion of the voter, the public. This business model can for the first time in our history begin to create bona fides in efficacy in government which heretofore news media cannot or does not accomplish sufficiently.
It is my opinion that BC Liberal Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon ought to call an inquiry into matters relating to this LRT Evergreen Line before any taxpayer dollars are spent. We do not believe the Premier can do so, because his DNA is all over approving this method of rapid transit.
The public purse cannot afford any further fast and loose shenanigans from pious politicians and bureaucrats who spend our money without any consideration of the implication of their poorly conceived actions. The LRT Evergreen Line is a prime example of this.

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