Lotus Land In Shock with the CPR Reactivating The Arbutus Corridor

The Arbutus corridor Interurban near 37th

The Arbutus corridor debate continues and Zwei has a made a few observations.

  1. Has anyone in the media ask Molsons if they want to once again use the railway for both delivery and export?
  2. Has anyone in the the media reported that the CPR has paid taxes since the rail line was mothballed?
  3. What liability risk is there for the CPR if someone injures themselves on the line?
  4. Has the media reported that the Arbutus line was doubled tracked until the late 1950’s, hence no WW II victory gardens were on the right of way?
  5. $100 million for the 10 km Arbutus Corridor ($10 million/km) is a bargain if a LRT/streetcar/tram line were to use it, considering that a Broadway SkyTrain subway will cost about $200 million/km!

From the Vancouver Sun.

Pete McMartin: Urbanization: Whoai??i??d have guessed? Kerrisdale as a bastion of Marxism

By Pete McMartin, Vancouver Sun August 16, 2014

A Canadian Pacific Rail police officer, right, directs residents Sarah Myambo, left, and Mila Rakhmetouline off the property for their safety as they try to salvage items from their community garden after workers destroyed and removed it on a stretch of abandoned CP Rail line in Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday August 14, 2014. The once-abandoned 11-kilometre-long Arbutus Corridor has been used by residents for many years as a greenway where community gardens were erected. The removal of the gardens is the culmination of a growing dispute between the rail company and the City of Vancouver over the value of the land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck


The latest tempest in a pea plot emanates from ai??i?? where else? ai??i?? the westside, home of the ever-embattled.

If itai??i??s not one thing with westsiders, itai??i??s everything. While most of Metro Vancouver endures measures of growth that are completely transforming huge swaths of the urban landscape to no outcry whatsoever, westsiders continue to make news with what seems to be their permanent state of apoplexy over the smallest of problems.

In the recent past, they have voiced their displeasure, to much media coverage, over the establishment of a single bike lane, a park pathway, modest densification along an arterial route, the only social housing complex for recovering addicts to be built west of Main, housing demolitions (as if that hasnai??i??t happened in every neighbourhood in the city), the invasion of offshore real estate buyers … and not having a moat to keep the rest of the world at bay, although possibly I made that last one up.

Whether itai??i??s the sense of enclave that privilege engenders, or the unstated but deeply held conviction that money should talk and a lot of money should do the loudest talking, the creme de la creme seem to spend much of their time complaining about how their world is curdling around them.

And that now includes gardening.

Or rather, as I see it, trespassing.

For over a decade, gardeners have appropriated for themselves small parcels of land alongside the CP Rail tracks that traverse the Arbutus Corridor. Westsiders walk their dogs there and park their cars there, too.

Itai??i??s private property, yet those gardeners have paid not a single penny to CP for the privilege of establishing their gardens on it. CP has up until now allowed it, probably out of disinterest more than anything.

This was also property that in the recent past was being considered as one of the candidates for a mass transit corridor through Vancouver, the proposal of which westsiders fought hard to stop. And successfully did so. Instead, the line was built down Cambie.

Yet while they blanched at the idea of a transit line going down the Arbutus Corridor, or, for that matter, anything going down it, the locals were fine with the idea of trespassing on private property so they could grow snap peas or walk their dogs. In effect, they seized the means of production. Who could have guessed that Kerrisdale would emerge as a bastion of Marxism?

So, when CP ordered the clearing of the gardens ai??i?? which I am assuming is its latest move in its high-stakes game of poker with the city government ai??i?? it was cast as the big bad capitalist bully.

Why couldnai??i??t the railway have waited, critics bemoaned, until the gardeners reaped their harvest? Didnai??i??t it realize that one of those gardens it was demolishing was the Vancouver Montessori Schoolai??i??s, planted to educate children about ai??i?? and I quote from the gardenai??i??s press release ai??i?? ai???life-changing processes of the seed-to-table process, the environmental impacts of their food choices and the various cultural celebrations connected to foodai????

And this, too, critics pointed out: The federal government gave that land to CP for free in the 1800s! And now the railway wants the city to pay a kingai??i??s ransom for it? Outrageous!

Well, no, itai??i??s not outrageous. Itai??i??s business. CPai??i??s responsibility is to get as high a rate of return for its stockholders as it can, not to ensure a high yield of tomatoes for the green thumbs of Kerrisdale.

If that means trying to force the city governmentai??i??s hand three months before a civic election ai??i?? a city government that CP has no love for, given their court battles, and the cityai??i??s zoning change that devalued the CP land by tens of millions of dollars ai??i?? I wouldnai??i??t be surprised if it did so.

Digging up the gardens was not a deft public relations move. Corporate backhoes levelling the gardens of retirees and schoolchildren is the kind of stuff that makes newshour producers salivate. So visceral. So easy.

But it isnai??i??t. This is a hard-headed negotiation. The city wants to buy the land from CP for significantly less than what CP wants to sell it for.

Meanwhile, those gardeners have had use of CPai??i??s land for free for over a decade. Thatai??i??s a lot of harvests under their belts. How much would it have cost them, I wonder, if they had had to pay for that privilege?


Comments are closed.