A Marpole resident is questioning which funds Vancouver is considering dipping into if CP Rail agrees to sell the Arbutus Corridor land to the city at “fair market value”.
In a letter to Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vancouver park board chair Aaron Jasper, Don Larson has indicated he hopes that the potential purchase of the lands doesn't pre-empt a new 10-acre park planned for Marpole.
“We would trust the City would not be raiding the $75,000,000 for new and expansion projects outlined in the current Capital Plan proposal in order to pay for this Arbutus Corridor,” he stated in the letter.
“Further, we would trust the City would not be raiding the $24,000,000 in Community Amenity Contributions from the April 2nd approved Marpole Plan.”
Larson outlined his concerns in response to a letter from Robertson being sent to residents along the Arbutus Corridor this week.
In that letter, the mayor indicates that the city has had an independent appraisal done and is “prepared to pay fair market value for the land”.
“Unfortunately, to date CPR has not been receptive to our offers,” the July 15 letter states.
“The City will continue to work towards reaching a reasonable, fair agreement with CPR that is reflective of the Arbutus Corridor ODP.
“We are clear in our vision for the Corridor. The City does not support the reactivation of cargo trains and we have expressed this directly to CPR.”
Community gardeners along the Arbutus Corridor, which has not been an active rail line for almost 14 years, have received notices to remove “unauthorized encroachments” on CP property by July 31.
“After July 31, any authorized property remaining within the boundaries of our right-of-way will be removed warranted by our track maintenance work,” a CPR notice posted in the neighbourhoods reads.
An online petition calling on the mayor to preserve the Arbutus Corridor as an ongoing green space has drawn more than 800 signatures.
The petition notes that the Maple Community Garden, one of the plots along the Arbutus Corridor, was established 25 years ago, and incorporates organic food production, soup kitchen garden beds, beekeeping, and rest spots for community members.
“Now this garden and those situated along the Arbutus Corridor are threatened. With less than a month's notice CP Rail has ordered that they all be dismantled,” the petition to the city reads.
“If you truly aspire to achieving the World's Greenest City, we urge you to support community gardens by entering into meaningful negotiations with Canadian Pacific to develop a sustainable plan for maintaining this precious green space.”