Continued Angst Over The Arbutus Corridor

The cries of, “shock and disbelief”, and hand wringing by those trespassing and keeping gardens on the CPR owned Arbutus Corridor is laughable. The media is now showing pictures of teary eyed children who weep for their lost beans and figs.

Enough please.

The Arbutus Corridor debate actually started with this quote at a transit meeting in Vancouver in the 90′s.

We are the people who live in your neighborhood. We are dentists, doctors, lawyers, professionals, CEOs of companies. We are the crA?me de la crA?me in Vancouver. We live in a very expensive neighborhood and weai??i??re well educated and well informed. And thatai??i??s what we intend to be.

The Arbutus Corridor was always earmarked for light rail, but a small and very well politically connected contingent of West side types got then premier Gordon Campbell to fund a now $2.5 billion Canada Line subway in Vancouver, supposedly taking transit off the table for the Arbutus Corridor negotiations.

The CPR did not want to play this game and asks for a reasonable sum of $100 million for the 11 km, 22m wide route that starts in Marpole and ends at Vainer park.

The City of Vancouver has only offered $20 million and refuse to budge.

After the line was mothballed in the early 2000, after the sole customer on the line, Molson’s Brewery ceased using rail, the many people backing onto the Arbutus trespassed regularly and acted as squatters building unlawful gardens.

Flash forward to may 2014 and Molsons brewery is rumoured to greatly increase beer production for export and once again may want to use rail to move its product.

The CPR sent a letter to the Arbutus Line neighbours telling them to dismantle the unlawful gardens or they would be dismantled by the CPR, as survey crews were seeing if rail transport was viable.

Now the wrecking crew has come and its goodbye gardens.

The following is a Facebook post by transit activist Peter Finch probably is closer to the truth than the wailing and moaning by the creme de la creme.

I told them so.

As a gardener, I fully understand and appreciate the emotional energy that went into building these beautiful gardens. However, I have always maintained that as good neighbours, and as part of an inclusive and responsible community, gardeners should always be careful to do it right, do it legally.

Did any of the gardeners ever approach CPR about the use of the land? NO, they didn’t.

Canadian Pacific Railway has really been forced to take action. They were denied the ability to sell off the land, and were directed by the Supreme Court to keep the property as a transportation corridor. While it was certainly the railway’s hope to sell the property. they must have realized at some point that their failure to maintain it as such created a huge potential liability for them.

If not maintained, anybody who is injured while trespassing can obviously sue the CPR for negligence. In order to be insurable, the railway has to re-establish its presence and restore the property to its legal zoned use–just as any property owner would have to do.

Legal gardens within the City of Vancouver have to carry liability insurance of $3 to $5 million, and some of them pay taxes–this is all dependent on where the gardens are located. The gardens along the Arbutus corridor were paying neither insurance, nor rent, nor taxes, and they had no permission to be there at all.

“Mayor Moonbeam” calls the CPR “bullies.” What’s wrong with this picture?

CPR has done a very poor job of public relations, but they are entirely in the right.

Whether CPR has a customer or not, they have a responsibility as a good corporate citizen to maintain their holdings according to City zoning, and according to the regulations set by Transport Canada.

Cut-and-dried simple.


5 Responses to “Continued Angst Over The Arbutus Corridor”
  1. Dr. Zen says:

    So this basically boils down to “Beer for China!” vs. “Kale for creme de la creme!”… the choice is clear. Beer always wins.

  2. eric chris says:

    Insightful and candid article by Peter Finch. It was a good read. .

  3. Alex says:

    This Mayor and Vision party makes me sick… why people are so blind to their tactics and so oblivious to what’s happening in our city and how Vision is completely ruining it, handing over our land to developers is beyond any logic?!

    I BET, Vision is planning to make this half bike lane, and sell parts to developers to make $$ for them who are funding their election!

  4. Tiffany says:

    I can’t believe this…I recall seeing the community gardens along the old railways a couple years ago, and I finally had the chance at lunch time yesterday to go sit in one of them and enjoy my lunch…and a lady comes by and told me how the CPR are going to take down the gardens along the railways…and how it had started at the Arbutus area!! I am soooo sad!! I wonder how will Vancouver ever be the Greenest City in 2020!!! No matter, I will make sure that more people are aware of these kind of struggles and keep other green spaces green forever, spreading the word now!

  5. Haveacow says:


    The loss of garden space along the line is lamentable but, it is CP’s land not yours! I if you are so worried about being “Green” consider the fumes and pollution from all the trucking that will be needed to carry all the extra beer from the Brewery or any other potential company that needs freight service along that line. Consider that one slow moving 40-50 car freight train inbound and one slow 40-50 freight car train outbound per day can remove 100+ trucks in each direction from the Brewery alone. By national standards a 40-50 car freight train is only considered small to medium size and the noise and disruption from these trains can be easily mitigated.

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