Joyce Murray: CP Rail should cancel evictions of community gardeners in Arbutus corridor

Joyce Murray, the Liberal MP for Vancouver Quadra, issued the following open letter:

July 10, 2014

Mr. Hunter Harrison
Chief Executive Officer
CP Rail
7550 Ogden Dale Road S.E.
Calgary, AB  T2C 4X9

Dear Mr. Harrison,

I was surprised to learn that Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) has issued eviction notices to community gardeners along the Arbutus Corridor in Vancouver Quadra. I was even more surprised to learn that these evictions are to take effect on July 31, 2014, providing barely one month notice.

It is my understanding that CP currently does not hold any permits or permissions for development along the corridor. Last month CP representatives advised a public meeting of Arbutus residents that they would be conducting surveying activities along the line and that they have no permission from the City of Vancouver for other activities.

Vancouver citizens have voluntarily improved some of the track right of way areas, turning unsightly garbage-strewn weed tangles into gardens that provide fresh food and flowers and benefit the community space. Can the CP surveyors not work around these objects?

The July 31st deadline for clearing the gardens is unreasonable and will waste the work that has been invested in this season's garden production. The corporation's decision to issue notices to remove gardens and sheds, without adequate time to make other arrangements, appears to be a thoughtless one that fails to meet the standards of good corporate citizenship.

I request that CP Rail show respect for our community by cancelling these evictions and inviting affected community members to work with them to find a satisfactory way forward. This will allow for a better understanding of all the relevant land use interests and issues, and a solution that accommodates both CP's requirements and those of the local communities.


Joyce Murray, MP,
Vancouver Quadra

Comments (25) Add New Comment
Dear Joyce
Quit sucking up to your crème de la crème and focus on your role in the federal parliament. CP Rail owns the land. Arbutus corridor residents are trespassing on it. End of story
Rating: +5
It's CP's land and they can do as they wish. It's extremely valuable, sure just like all real estate in Vancouver.
Rating: -10
Not supporting corporate sponges
Sure, they have the right to the land, but they were given it for a song many years ago. The feds should take it back for the same price, adjusted for the time passed, and give them the boot so that it can be used for citizens/city/transit/development - whatever the people want - instead of just wasting its potential.
Rating: 0
Jordan W
I sympathize with the gardeners who've worked to make the rail line such a beautiful place. I really enjoyed walking along the line and seeing the hard work and community spirit that went into it.

That said, I don't believe there really is anything that can be done. They were built over someone else's property, and while they didn't seem to care for the past 15 years, consider it a privilege -- not a right. It was a bonus extension to your back yard for the past 15 years. CP could have come and tore it up overnight but are good enough of a corporate citizen to give a one-month notice.

If your neighbours started urban farming in your back yard, do you give them a one-month notice? Really.
Rating: +6
Martin Dunphy
They were given permission, just with no promises as to length of tenure. CP could have waited until after harvest this year so months of preparatory work weren't wasted.
Just sayin'.
Rating: +1
Wally B
1. Why didn't they wait until november?
2. Really, how needed is this surveying? I also heard there would be spraying too. This really smacks of CP not wanting people to get too cozy with the gardens on CP's unused land and want to re-assert some rights to it which seems unnecessary.
3. I'm also relatively certain whatever surveying they are doing could be done around most if not all of the gardens. Granted I have only surveyed once in my life.
Rating: -4
jo blough
Why do all the officious twits sitting behind their desks have so much to say about all the rest of us who are just getting on with our lives?
Rating: -7
Hmmm. Thinking back to the good ol' days when that lady stood in front of Vancouver city council and declared the residents living along the Arbutus Corridor as the "Creme de la Creme" of Vancouver society, you have to sit back and laugh now. Why? Because the Creme De La Creme are now common squatters on private property. Reverse the situation a bit. What if a bunch of strangers came along and started planting gardens in the back yards of some of these residents alone the Arbutus Corridor.

What would the home owners be saying then??? Well, they'd be calling the police accusing people of trespassing and squatting on their private property. Now I get that CP Rail isn't exactly well thought of, and fact is that they should have enforced their property rights right when the illicit "squatting" (through planting of gardens etc) started. Its a straight up power play by the railway. Maybe Hunter's looking to duplicate what he pulled off with the BC Rail deal, a thousand year lease of the Arbutus corridor, but only in reverse this time. Instead of leasing the land for a 1000 years, he wants TO LEASE the land back to the city perhaps, to capitalize on what is largely an abandoned strip of land in the middle of Kerrisdale.

Will the Creme De la Creme squatters get the city to fork over to CP Rail for their inherent right to keep squatting on the rail property? Or will the city dump it on the residents to negotiate directly with the railway?

As for Joyce Murray's role in all this... Joyce, its between the city of Vancouver, the residents alongside the Arbutus Corridor, and CP Rail. Moderate for sure if you can, but more likely stay the hell out of it!!!!!
Rating: 0
Evil Eye
Dear Joyce;

I want to grow a garden in your back yard, if you have one. I want unlimited tenure as well.

As well Joyce, why are you standing up for the wealthy in Vancouver and not the poor. These gardens are a pastime, nothing more and by the way, the CPR did not giver permission for the gardens, evidently the city did!

And for all those anti CPR types, the CPR was given land to build railways and they did, across Canada. Those who are intelligent enough, would understand this and this railway (and land) is owned by the CPR and those building gardens are trespassing.

By the way Joyce, what have you actually done, sitting as an MP? Have you helped our urban transit problems by modernizing the railway act to allow trams to operate on railway lines, like the USA and Europe?

Have you passed laws making it easier (cheaper) to turn disused rail lines in urban areas, into transit lines, as done elsewhere? Makes things cheaper for the taxpayer you know?

Have you done anything, except collect an annual stipend for being a talking mouth? have you actually done anything, except write a "naughty-naughty" letter to the CPR?

sorry Joyce, you have no cred at all, just another MP, appealing to his/hers base for the upcoming election.
Rating: -3
Well, that was a civil gesture which does you no harm politically by sending in a copy to the Straight.

I have to admit that after all of the fuss that Arbutus residents made over the possibility of transit buses using the rail lines they would rather we forgot were there, that it is very satisfactory to see that CP has not forgotten them. Perhaps you should have pushed harder for transit usage rather than, say, heavy rail clanking past at three in the morning. Ha. That's egg on your face - no, creme.
Rating: -5
It is a little harsh that CP wants the garden beds removed in the middle of summer, and before the locals have a chance to fully harvest the produce from them; but it is their property, and nobody had a permit to squat on their land in the first place. The province and/or city should make the effort to purchase the right-of-way, and then decide what to do with it (and at that price I highly doubt that vegetable garden-beds is going to be the preferred usage). It would be wonderful to have an urban bicycle corridor (hey, if they can take Pt. Grey Rd. for that purpose they can certainly do it with this corridor). The Burke Gilman Trail in Seattle is a wonderful example of what could be done with it.
Rating: -11
cranky mom
You could wait another month. The season is so bloody short in Vancouver for gardening veggies, what difference is a few more days? You are just being total jerks. The people who use community gardens are not the "creme de la creme" snobs from further south, they are apartment dwellers who do not have backyards.

Now I must digress.
Hunter Harrison, eat shit. I understand you were brought into CP from retirement (from CN) to cut costs. You closed yards, cuts jobs, and yet you make 49.1 million dollars per year. Does anyone that old & ugly need that much money? Plus you did it in a manner which stressed out families and created conflict within the company. There have been more & more rail accidents since the cutbacks. Both CP and CN. You smug piece of shit.

Rating: -8
@ Cranky Mom, calling people names is a very weak argument. And Martin - "with no promises as to length of tenure". Just sayin'!!!!
Rating: -13
Martin Dunphy

Everyone, especially the owner, knows they have no intention of using the tracks for trains ever again (unless it is transit).
This is all a sham, an exercise in not-so-polite extortion. The surveying, possible spraying, demolishing gardens, etcetera.
My point was simple: how about a little politeness?
Would that be so hard?
Rating: -2
Gerard J. McCormack
Not your LAND!!

It mine so get off it!!!
Don't change the Canada Constitution.
What's mine is mine.

Not CP but I write like CP Rail should write!!!
Rating: -17
Sir John A.
Warms my heart.
What Conservative heart couldn't be warmed by so much schadenfreude!

"Schadenfreude from the Atlantic to the Pacific!"
The National Dream!

Good to see my people haven't changed.
Rating: -4
Alan Layton
CP isn't even the real threat to this important greenspace in Vancouver. Robertson is the one that we need to prevent getting hold of the lands. CP wants to sell the land to the city and is forcing the issue by 'reclaiming' it and for bogus reasons - that they will use it for storage and training even though it will cost a fortune to fix the tracks. Gregor has said repeatedly that he will keep it as a greenspace UNTIL he finds a viable commercial plan to convert it to light rail.
Rating: -5
Alan Layton
Evil Eye.

Nice one using that dirty term 'the wealthy' to try and make your ill-conceived defense. The people who have those gardens are not wealthy. Wealthy people have yards where they grow gardens. Most of the gardens are at the northern and southern parts of the track where they have low-income housing and basement suite renters. They are the ones who started the gardens in the first place.

I wouldn't shed a tear for CP either since they were given huge plots of land in Vancouver and at ridiculously low prices and with insider knowledge that the western terminus was to be in Vancouver (called Granville back then). Not only did the CP get land but all of their directors and senior management were let in on it as well and the huge increase in land value after the announcement dwarfs the recent increases of the last two decades. Vancouver has always been a land speculators heaven and these guys became fabulously wealthy and were the inhabitants of the first mansions along what was then called Blue Blood Alley on the edge of the cliffs along Georgia St and to the north. In fact Shaughnessy was built for them.

Most of the business conducted by the CP magnates would land them in jail now a days. Try reading some history.
Rating: -3
Kathryn Ayres
Nobody seems to be talking about the fact that once trains are riding down those rails, right through dense residential areas, residents will have to brace for possible toxicity that is not presently an issue.

Will these trains be carrying anything flammable? Will the trains lower property values? Will they lead to more accidents?

Rating: -6
Evil Eye
Does anyone know that a disused or abandoned rail line can be bought for scrap value, if one wants to run a railway on it? The city of Vancouver could acquire the "Arbutus" for scrap if they honestly wanted to operate some sort of rail passenger service. They don't, they want railway land on the cheap so they can resell it to their developer friends at a mega profit. The CPR are well aware of Vision Vancouver's scams.
Rating: +2


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