Vancouver Sun, Page B4, 7-Sept-2000:

By Brian Morton.

The debate over Skytrain's expansion through Vancouver's Grandview cut greenbelt moved to Burnaby on Wednesday, where a dozen of protesters stopped construction on part of the line for several hours.

"We're mad. We're upset and we're heartbroken because of the way SkyTrain is crashing through the Grandview Cut," said protester Robert Sarti, a retired Vancouver Sun reporter. "Its unnecessary. They could put it underground, but its on the east side. Imagine this happening in Dunbar."

Vancouver residents who don't want the greenbelt destroyed during the construction of the new Millennium SkyTrain line were ordered by a B.C. Supreme Court judge last month to stop blocking construction. However, Skytrain project spokesman Scott Alexander said that injunction only addressed the area within the Grandview Cut, not the Burnaby site, which is about one-and-one-half kilometres east.

Alexander said SkyTrain had considered getting an injunction to stop Wednesday's protest, but didn't.

Sarti said police showed up early Wednesday and ordered them out, but that they refused. The protesters then left on their own about 10:30 a.m. he said.

Of any future protests along the line, Sarti said: "We'll probably do hit-and-run protests to keep them off balance."

Last month, residents led by Sarti, shut down construction along the cut between Slocan and Lakewood streets, saying the line will destroy one of the largest wild greenbelts in east Vancouver.

Sarti blamed the provincial government and the city for the destruction of the cut, saying east-side residents are being shrotchanged on wild parkland.

Sarti said the line should be run entirely underground from Slocan. He said the cut is home to thousands of trees and more than 60 species of birds, mammals and amphibians

However, Alexander said the ravin will actually be greener once the line goes through. "We have three arborists looking at every single tree there. We're working to not only protect the greenspace there now, but expand it."

But Sarti doesn't buy that argument, saying any changes will just be landscaping.

Alexander said he didn't know how much Wednesday's protest cost SkyTrain, only that last month's protest cost the company and its contractors about $50,000 a day in delays.

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