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Green Line builders encounter homeless encampments along LRT route

Construction on the new LRT line is expected to start in earnest next year and is scheduled to take between five and six years to complete. (Robson Fletcher/CBC - image credit)
Construction on the new LRT line is expected to start in earnest next year and is scheduled to take between five and six years to complete. (Robson Fletcher/CBC - image credit)

The CEO of the Green Line LRT project says encampments of unhoused people along the route of the new line have been forced to move.

Darshpreet Bhatti says the city and its partner agencies with experience dealing with the unhoused population and the vulnerable were called in to have conversations with those found along the route and help them relocate.

"It was done with professionalism, with dignity," Bhatti told CBC News.

Green Line officials worked with the city's Partner Agency Liaison (PAL) team and the Joint Encampment Team (JET) on the relocations, according to Jodie Lush with the Green Line's project management office.

Construction on the new LRT line is expected to start in earnest next year, so crews have been out inspecting the route, looking for potential issues for adjacent landowners and taking core samples. Bhatti said his teams have inspected 70 sites, with encampments found in nine of them.

He said it isn't safe to simply allow people to stay, but they also want to spare them the disruption of repeatedly having to move.

"If we're going to be constructing something there for the next few years, we cannot have them come back and then go through the same ordeal every time we need them to be off the lands. So we will look for a long-term solution," he said.

Spending by the city on the Green Line project has now surpassed $1 billion.

Bhatti said the money spent so far includes preliminary work, the contract for new LRT cars, engineering work and buying land, as well as other elements of the project.

"We're close to 1,200 people working on the program … so lots of experts reviewing and designing and costing various aspects of the project. So the costs that we're incurring is reflective of all that work," he said.

The city has assembled $5.5 billion for the new LRT line, which will be 18 kilometres long. Construction is expected to take between five and six years to complete.