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Translink paying $60,000 a month in rent for building that’s sitting empty

Translink is defending its decision to spend tens of thousands of dollars a month to rent a building that it isn’t using yet.

Translink intends to use the Burnaby building to update aging Skytrains, but no work has been done yet and the building is virtually empty.

Burnaby councillor Colleen Jordan thinks it shows a lack of planning on Translink’s part.

“I think it shows a lack of foresight and a lack of planning,” says Jordan. “When you have facilities like this, and just sell them, and then lease them back — who’s in charge? It doesn’t seem like a very good way to do business.”

Regardless, Translink has been paying rent of $60,000 a month for 19 months, for total of more than $1 million.

Making matters worse, the building now being rented by Translink was once owned outright by B.C. Transit before that agency sold it for a loss back in 2004.

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“At the time, we were in a much different place than we are today,” says Fred Cummings, President and General Manager of the B.C. Rapid Transit Co. “10 years ago, we were looking at cutting back and reducing our capital plan and our service program was being reduced as well — it was a really difficult time for Translink.”

“So, at that time, there just wasn’t capital to secure that site. It’s a little bit different now, that we’ve got a capital project that includes the ability to acquire a site or lease a site — it made a lot of sense to us,” says Cummings.

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