City of Vancouver Buys the Arbutus Corridor

Well kiss any thought of affordable transit goodbye, as the City of Vancouver will never agree to have trams operating on the former interurban line, the Arbutus Corridor.

They may talk the talk, but will never walk the walk.

The Canada Line is extremely capacity constipated and light rail on the Arbutus would be a good deal cheaper to build than the estimated $1 billion to $1.5 billion needed to upgrade and increase capacity on the subway!

In fact it would be cheaper to build a stand alone LRT, from Vancouver to Steveston and Ironwood Mall, using the Arbutus Line, than just upgrading the Canada Line light-metro and extending it!

If Vancouver uses the Arbutus corridor for anything except but for transit, Metro Vancouver mayors should withhold any approval of all transit monies for the city, including the large subsidies needed for the trolleybus system.

LRT with a lawned rights-of-way would make the Arbutus corridor a real greenway

while providing an affordable transit option.Ai??

Vancouver buys Arbutus corridor for urban greenway, ending dispute with CP Rail

By Matthew Robinson, Vancouver Sun March 7, 2016 6:26 PM

Pedestrians walk along the Arbutus corridor. The City of Vancouver and CP Rail have reached a deal — $55 million for the strip of land from milton Street near the Fraser River to 1st Avenue near False Creek, in Vancouver, BC., March 7, 2016.

Photograph by: NICK PROCAYLO, PNG

VANCOUVER ai??i?? The City of Vancouverai??i??s $55-million purchase of the Arbutus Corridor from Canadian Pacific Railway has put to rest a long-standing battle, but its intention to use the route for transit could reignite a dormant fight.

The deal was filed Monday and before it was even announced, city staff had a new purpose for what theyai??i??ve already dubbed the Arbutus Greenway. The cityai??i??s plan is to turn the 9-km route from Kitsilano through the west side into a transportation corridor featuring walking and cycling paths as well as light rail or streetcars.

Mayor Gregor Robertson said final purchase price was a fair market valuation because the land is committed to be an active transportation corridor in the future.

ai???Thereai??i??s no question thereai??i??s an enormous city benefit here,ai??? Robertson said.

ai???Itai??i??s impossible to acquire a strip of land like this through basically anywhere else in the city, east or west, where rapid transit could be installed at a very reasonable

City staff plan to set up a new project office to oversee the design of the greenway and public consultations.

The Arbutus Corridor cuts through a few pricey neighbourhoods including Arbutus Ridge, Shaughnessy and Kerrisdale. Counted among the residents are dentists, doctors, lawyers, professionals and chief executive officers of companies, ai???the crA?me de la crA?me in Vancouver,ai??? as Pamela Sauder, a member of the Arbutus Corridor Residents Association, infamously stated in a 2000 protest of a plan to run rapid transit through the corridor.

The quote, which Sauder later apologized for, made for an explosive and memorable moment in the debate, but it was far from the only utterance residents have opposing the idea. The fight helped sway the decision to instead run rapid transit from Vancouver to Richmond underground along the Cambie Street corridor.

But the 17 hectares of now public land remains a tempting option for at-grade rapid transit.

Under the terms of the deal, any ai???excess landai??? in the corridor that is not needed for the greenway can be repurposed or sold, Robertson said. But he stated there is no development envisioned at this time and most of the space is expected to be taken up by transportation.

If any land is sold, CP Rail gets a share of the take. According to a complicated schedule provided by the city, the railway company would get 75 per cent of the first $50 million in profit, 50 per cent of the second $50 million, and 25 per cent of the third $50 million. Any profit beyond $150 million goes directly to the city.

But the deal also leaves CP the chance to exercise option on lands between West 1st and 5th avenues. Under that alternate scheme, the city would get 50 per cent of any proceeds CP raised beyond $75 million, and CP would cease to share in the profits from any corridor land sold outside of those few blocks.

CP pressured the city in 2014 in the midst of discussions over the sale of the land when it brought in work crews to dismantle community gardens that had sprouted along the unused line. The railway claimed it intended to store railway cars along the corridor. The city filed an injunction to block the railway from reactivating the line, but that bid was dismissed in B.C. Supreme Court.

The city had offered the railway $20 million for the land, but CP wanted an undisclosed amount more, reported to be a figure five times higher.

The mayor and Keith Creel, president and chief operating officer of CP, announced the agreement together Monday morning with the rail line and a community garden in the background.

When asked if the company ever had any serious intention to store railway cars in the corridor, Creel said it did.

ai???Actually, we were serious,ai??? he said. ai???Thereai??i??s just a shortage of locations to store cars today, and so it is definitely something we would have used had we not come to this

ai???We certainly regret any inconvenience that was caused,ai??? Creel said, adding he was elated a deal was reached.

As part of the deal, CP agreed to remove its railway lines and ties from the property within two years.

The mayor described the deal as a ai???fair agreementai??? and a ai???historic development that will create a destination greenway from Vancouver coming off of our world-renowned

Robertson asked community gardeners to hold back on expanding their plots of land.

ai???Itai??i??s up to the community engagement to decide whether some more gardening space could be allocated somewhere along the corridor. Obviously it has to work with the transportation and the walking and biking


6 Responses to “City of Vancouver Buys the Arbutus Corridor”
  1. Mark says:

    This is absolutely terrible, unless there is a written agreement that the City must uphold to use the corridor for “RAPID” transit rather than just use the valuable corridor as a stupid rail trail by people who apparently hate railways. There needs to be definite disclosure of what the City plans in the Arbutus corridor regarding light Rapid transit and a timeline and budget for the new infrastructure to be developed.

  2. Haveacow says:

    Zwei, you sound so distrustful of the government of the great City of Vancouver. That’s not like you at all. But didn’t they say that they plan to use this for LRT, “The city’s plan is to turn the 9-km route from Kitsilano through the west side into a transportation corridor featuring walking and cycling paths as well as light rail or streetcars.” Don’t you believe them?

    Zwei replies: NO! The city of Vancouver has abandoned their heritage street railway, the award winning Olympic Line. In the Facebook posting, some very notable transit types, expressed equal dismay.

  3. Haveacow says:

    In all seriousness though, I want to see how someone like Daryl (Skytrain for Surrey, Daryl) spins this for a Skytrain line running at grade. I feel it coming, like the coming of mosquitoes in spring time by the Rideau Canal here in Ottawa. Even just as an automatic reflex response, when he fully understands and digests the news about the right of way. Then begins his freak out because the Mayor of Vancouver dared to actually use the term LRT in a sentence and that it may operate (gasp) on the surface. Regardless of what the City of Vancouver’s actual plans are, I actually have to admit that, I’m a little embarrassed about the real perverse joy I will feel watching about viewing this coming spectacle. The sheer guilty pleasure as I experience the truly titanic intellectual gymnastics, he and others like him, will use to justify a Skytrain or similar type of Light Metro Line in this corridor. Realistic or not, and most likely, not. The tragic comedy as everyone gets angry, excited and frustrated around the debate of this corridor’s possible uses. Then the sudden and audible, “THUD” as they all realize, they still don’t have their local share of the money needed to pay for any of it. Zwei, please keep us informed on their upcoming activities.

  4. Justin Bernard says:

    To be fair, the Olympic line was always meant to be a temporary line. The City spent WAY too much on the infrastructure, but the trams were not theirs to keep.

    Zwei replies: True enough but the wide popularity of the Olympic Line and the ability of just two modern trams moving large numbers of people scared the hell out of the subway types at Vision Vancouver and City Hall. The Olympic line was a heritage railway and big tourist draw, yet they abandoned it with haste. Good to hear from you!

  5. Moncrief says:

    Zwei. Actually we at Friends of the Olympic Line are pushing hard for renewal of the False Creek operations. Meetings with City/Counciliors have indicated that operating historic equipment was a stumbling block in their eyes and not the wisest immediate course of action. Other options that we have suggested with replica Gomeco cars modeled on the original Van trams but fully accessible and modern control systems seem to strike a cord. Our facebook:

  6. Moncrief says:

    Yes when it comes to streetcars along False Creek the “optics” are not good when you are trying to push a mini metro for Broadway. Its a political mine-field that we are navigating but with the Arbutus Corridor now ostensibly in City hands there is a sense the tide may be turning for the future of streetcars in Vancouver. Hopefully there is a spill-over for the entire region and we are obviously big fans of Rail for the Valley.

    Zwei replies: Regular updates would be most appreciated.

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