Arbutus corridor gardeners want city to stop CP Rail bulldozers

As everyone in Vancouver has heard by now, CP Rail is razing the community gardens in its right of way on the West Side, starting in Marpole.

But many are still standing, such as the Pine Street Community Garden, east of Burrard Street.

One group of gardeners is calling for the city to, well, do something to stop the impending destruction of the remaining gardens in the Arbutus corridor.

Representatives of Arbutus Victory Gardens, along East Boulevard, have written a letter to the mayor, council, and park board, asking them to take legal action to stop CP Rail. Their August 17 letter states:

In the wake of the destruction of the Marpole Gardens, the time has now come for action. We respectfully request that the City intervene by any legal means available, such as a stay of action or a legal suit, to halt the progress of CP’s bulldozers until such time as it presents a viable business plan demonstrating actual intent to spend the millions of its dollars required to bring the tracks up to operational standard and demonstrates serious intent to run trains for economic benefit along the corridor.

We also call on you to prevent CP from spraying herbicides in contravention of City by-laws and other public health policies.

Further, we ask that you place priority on finding new garden spaces for those whose gardens were destroyed last week.

Also, as the grantor of the permits for those who garden adjacent the railway corridor, we request that you provide assistance with relocation of plant and garden material placed in good faith. The discovery that many of the garden plots, allocated by the City, straddle both City and CP land is something many gardeners were unaware of until CP installed survey stakes, and many established plants and materials such as compost bins are too unwieldy for gardeners to move themselves.

The letter also notes:

Gardens coexisted with the trains for six decades, and did not interfere with safe and effective running and maintenance of the railway line. For decades, there was implicit permission from CP that gardeners could use the land. Moreover, utility poles leased on CP property exist along the tracks closer than the boundaries of the gardens that have been destroyed. If these poles are not a problem for track maintenance, then the gardens are not a problem either.

It's also worth noting that CP Rail's Arbutus corridor doesn't even connect to those tracks running west-east just south of False Creek. If you've ever bought a coffee at the Starbucks at the entrance to Granville Island, you know trains can't run through that piece of land, sold by CP in the '90s, anymore.

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Comments (19) Add New Comment
What part of 'trespassing' do the gardeners not understand?And why should all taxpayers pay to subsidize the gardens of a lucky few Vancouverites wealthy enough to live in this neighbourhood?
Rating: +10
So let me get this straight....if I built a garden in the backyard of an abandoned yard and then years later the owner requests that the garden be removed, I can ask the city to stop the removal??? Are you effin serious??? Wake the EFF up!
Rating: +14
CP R ail will change the culture of vancouver one garden at a time.
Rating: +5
I express my hate to rich people!
I express my support for alternate group of rich people!
I seek out these things that are not part of my life, complaining about being a victim is the best part of my day!
Rating: -8
What a joke!! If They want to go on a crusade to save their illegal gardens, how about they hire their own lawyer!! The city taxpayers should not be on the hook for court costs so a select few can trespass and benefit from it. These people need a reality check
Rating: +12
Tommy Khang
Too bad for these gardeners that Vision has and will be using this as a political issue instead of trying to actually come up with a legitimate solution. Arbutus corridor is Vancouver Aquarium 2.0 of this year's municipal election.
Rating: -1
might want to rethink this
so just to be clear, if they actually make CP stop the removal of gardens, will these people pay the city a fee for use of there garden land? or shall we just give it to them for free simply because?
I think these folks are on a slippery slope with this move. Be glad you had the land for free and got more that a few harvest out of there, because anyway you cut it (city land, or CP land) these gardeners don't own it.
as for the implied permission argument, if I go into Stanley park and plant a garden, and the garden stay's hidden for 10 years can I ask the city not to remove it since the city was absent in telling me that I was in violation?. I'm thinking the city wants to be no were near this kind of argument in fear of having it comeback to haunt them down the road.
Best to Call it a day and plant stuff in your own yard people.
Rating: +9
How can you complain about something you don't even own? Somebody call the "waaaahmbulance" cuz all I hear are adults having hissyfits #firstworldproblems
Rating: +4
rethink the rethink
@might want to rethink this

A hidden garden in Stanley Park is an extremely weak analogy. CP was fully aware of these gardens as they used to cut the weeds and blackberries back with a tracked mower most years and the gardens were never an issue - in some areas the gardens were being used while they still ran a monthly train. The gardeners and the many people who walk and ride the track have had a good relationship with CP rail for years. In fact CP didn't even bother to replace or install no trespassing signs until just recently. CP has no use for the rail and for most it's history they leased it to companies for tram service - which stopped in 1954. CP has no customers on the line and plenty of empty rail for storage and training elsewhere. They are using the destruction of the gardens to put pressure on the city to buy the land. They just want the money and for them to destroy the gardens only weeks from harvest was senseless. The only reason you are lecturing is that the line is on the west side and people who read the GS hate people living west of Ontario.
Rating: -3
Did you know that one of the garden plots is for food that is taken to the downtown eastside soup kitchen? Did you know some of the gardeners are residents of lower income housing? Maybe you shouldn't be so quick to assume that the gardeners are wealthy Kits folk.
Rating: 0
Omg CP rail. Please charge every single person that complaines a ticket for tresspassing! Plant your damn gardens on your own land !! So simple. Do you pay the thousands of dollars in taxes?? What's that ??! Yea you don't CP does. And it doesn't matter what they do with it once again they own the land not enough lawyers or government can change what CP rail does with there land They were nice to give notice and u had plenty notice too so can't complaine and say this came out of nowhere!!
Rating: -4
Brent Cummings
CPR own the land and have every right to remove these gardens and give plenty of notice they were going to. How about I build a garden in your yard and then cry about it if you want to remove it.
Rating: -4
Rethink the rethink - you need to stop living on mars!! It's their land!! They don't need a business case! Obviously a change in management doesn't agree with your illegally squatter trespressing garden. Your lucky cp doesn't take you and all the other arrogant trespassers to court for the clean up costs! The creme of the le creme is getting a reality check the laws of land ownership.. Who the hell gave you and the city, the right to use someone else's property? Want legal authority said it was ok.. Your lucky cp put up with it for this long!!
Rating: -4
might want to rethink this
to rethink the rethink.

this is nothing personal to the residences of this area. my point is you cannot selectively apply land rights, be it a corporation or and individual.
these people were always aware that they were on CP rails property for well over 10 years. weather you agree with CP or not they are within their rights to do so.
If you take away the rights of CP rail, you open the door for your rights to be removed. thus the slippery slope.
the relationship with the CP rail personal may of been amicable, however, they do not own the land. they are employees. Share holds own the land, and should be compensated
keep in mind that if the city does buy this property they have claimed that it will be used as transportation route, and under the zoning bylaw the gardens would have to be removed for liability reasons.
Rating: +6
rethink the rethink
Yes, Reality, we all know about your feelings on your inadequacy and your use of the word 'creme de la creme' to try and fool everyone into thinking this is some class war. You know nothing about the gardens, CP, the corridor or the city's involvement in it. All you know is that it's on the west side (where you've never been) and you're just looking for revenge, for whatever twisted reason you've developed over the years.

The gardens are largely used by normal people and were started in large part by people living in rentals with no yards and quite a few were low-income. You do realize that Kits has low-income housing don't you? They've been there for decades, as have those in one of the other gardens in Marpole. CP had no problem at all with these gardens and some were even there when they ran trains. It's just a nasty political trick by CP to blackmail the city into paying way more than the land is worth. If you can't understand this then you are a bigger idiot than your rants exhibit.
Rating: +4
Heartwarming. You know what? You can dig up your fricken front lawns and plant peas, too.

You have no interest in asking CP to preserve some of the gardens in exchange for a LRT line which we need. Instead you have planted gardens to keep transit out. So, you're really a victim of your own success.

LRT can be quiet if done right by good engineers. Think and you shall be not dumb.
Rating: -2
Creme de la Creme
We are the people who live in your neighborhood. We are dentists, doctors, lawyers, professionals, CEOs of companies. We are the crème de la crème in Vancouver. We live in a very expensive neighborhood and we’re well educated and well informed. And that’s what we intend to be.
Rating: -3
@Brent Cummings
The day that a railroad company has a "back yard", maybe there is some weight to the comparison. But it can't and doesn't. A railroad company is a thing that has the object of running trains, and the rail-line is not the rail company's "back yard," it is land in which the rail company has a use---and a use should be exercised in good faith. Railroads are way more like toll roads than they are like wholly private ventures. I don't see it as appropriate for the gardens to be demolished, so close to harvest time especially.

The city should buy the land and make a long, thin park out of it.
Rating: +2
hello ~ I'm not so interested nor able to contribute in discussion of the pro- and cons of the situation, nor of who does or doesn't own the particular land.

I just want to note:
I'll miss the beauty of the gardens, the creativity and joyful expression, the evidence of connections within that neighbourhood blossoming in the open air of that bountiful garden
Rating: +2
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