Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson calls removal of Arbutus corridor gardens a “bullying tactic”

Mayor Gregor Robertson has issued a statement criticizing CP Rail’s removal of gardens along the Arbutus corridor.

"CP's removal and destruction of long-standing structures along the Arbutus Corridor is completely unwarranted, and these actions are simply a bullying tactic,” he said today (August 15).

“The City made a fair market offer to CP to buy the land, which they turned down. There is no business case to reactivate cargo trains along the Corridor, and the City's right to control the zoning was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada.”

CP Rail started demolishing gardens in Marpole on Thursday (August 14). Gardeners along the corridor had been told to remove any “encroachments” on the company’s property by July 31.

"The City offered to purchase the land at fair market value, which CP rejected,” Robertson said.

“I wrote to the head of CP last month requesting a facilitated discussion to reach a long-term solution, which has been ignored. The actions by CP are counterproductive, unnecessary, and disrespectful.”

NPA mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe also issued a statement about the issue this afternoon, saying he empathizes with “those who have put time and resources into creating and tending community gardens”.

“They must now witness the dismantling of these gardens because the City failed to competently negotiate a commercial transaction with CP,” LaPointe stated.

“But it didn’t have to come to this.”

In CP Rail's most recent letter to residents, the company's director of Government Affairs West, Mike LoVecchio, stated that the next step to return the rail line to operating standards has begun.

“CP employees and contractors are making their way along the corridor identifying needed track improvements and removing items which still remain on our property,” the letter reads.

“We are testing crossing signals, and assessing pedestrian and vehicle crossings to understand where, if any, maintenance is required. We will also be replacing tracks and ties where necessary. Heavy machines are used for some of this work and we ask you use the same caution as around a construction site.”

The letter also indicates that CP will be spraying herbicide to prevent the re-growth of weeds.

“This work will continue throughout August and into September,” LoVecchio stated.

“Our goal is to have the entire line ready for train operations in the fall.”

Comments (27) Add New Comment
Well, it's about time the west side had to deal with reality - it's not your land...end of story!
Rating: +72
Save Vancouver
Well if anyobody knows anything about bullying neighbourhoods into submission it is Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver.

There's a rich irony in Mayor Moonbeam moaning about losing green space when: 1)they're responsible for thousands of demolished homes with mature gardens 2) they haven't made their developer buddy Concord Pacific build the promised False Creek park.
Rating: +82
Very Unfortunate
Its very unfortunate that such wonderful community green space has become bargaining leverage between CP Rail and the City of Vancouver. The gardens add a lot to the quality of life in the area and are much more beautiful than barren tracks. But at the end of the day, CP Rail executives must do their fiduciary duty regardless of the effect on the citizenry. But have no fear, deep down CP loves us...

"Our community investment program is focused on the historic ties we have with the communities along our tracks, and our goal of making a significant and lasting contribution to the quality of life in these towns and cities."

... they're just adding some new history and a significant, lasting contribution to our quality of life.
Rating: -24
Boris Moris
It's vital to the interests of the Harper and Clark governments, and all the shady corporations who support these two governments, that one of their spin doctors is elected as mayor of Vancouver. In the north the First Nations are leading the efforts to prevent the world's dirtiest petrocrap from destroying the environment due to the inevitable spills. In the south it is the municipal governments of Vancouver and Burnaby leading the battle against the diluted bitumen scourge.

CP Rail is doing it's part in this charade. It's not too hard to see how mass media here, led by the Sun and Province newspapers, are little more than propaganda spewers for resource extractors. Their treatment of the Mt. Polley disaster is proof of that. Watch for the attacks against Vision to increase in intensity.
Rating: -39
Kind of like how Vision Vancouver forced through its bike lanes in Downtown Vancouver against the better wishes of business on Howe Street, eh, Mayor Moonbeam?
Rating: +40
@SP - one of the people on the news who has a garden on there is a First Nations member, so your allegation is wrong. It isn't CP's land, it belongs to him and his people.
Rating: -56
creating neighbourhoods
Yup, totally agree re Mayor Moonbeam. I'm now avoiding insane traffic congestion & pointless rerouting by driving down the empty back lanes which could've easily been designated for bikes. Occupying unused space instead of co-opting routes already serving other purposes would have cost less money and the mood would be communal instead of adversarial. So unnecessary. Sad..
Rating: +31
This is such an obvious bluff by CP -- do they really have customers along that line waiting to take deliveries by rail? Near as I can tell the only commercial enterprise adjacent to that line anymore is Sports Exchange -- that's a lot of hockey gear!

That being said, this seems like an entirely negotiable situation and not sure why the city is being so stubborn.

Per the comment above, I'm not sure how much more it's possible to invest in the "quality of life" for residents of the West Side? Maybe let's invest in some other neighbourhoods for a while.
Rating: +25
judy green
Can anyone tell me how CP obtained the land along the Arbutus Corridor
Was it purchased or appropriated?
Rating: -27
Sick of Robertson
How about the public land appropriated by residents along Point Grey Road for their private gardens? Perhaps the expropriation is part of making the road private. I have seen city officials tear up boulevard gardens in other neighbourhoods, don't tell me there are different rules for 1%ers who donate to Vision and are neighbours of the Mayor's wife!
Rating: +38
Judy - CP was given the land by the Province at the end of the 19th Century. They never paid for it. It was given to them to provide a service, which they stopped providing in the early 2000s. I believe it's also unceded land. There's never been an agreement or a sale from the First Nations that lived there for thousands of years.
Rating: -1
It is CP's private property. If someone came into my backyard and started planting a garden, I'd want the city to back me up when I removed it. How would you feel if the government stopped respecting your rights?
Rating: +29
Good one
What a mess.
Rating: +12
If there are those who wish to be green thumb,let the be green thumb on there own property.Why should the majority of Vancouver tax payers spend 20 to 100 million dollars for a few peas in a pod.We have homeless and those less fortunate. If tax payer money is to be spent,it should go to the latter. you want fresh organic vegetables,spend Your own money and support organic farms.
Rating: +24
corlie purvis
Is this a joke! hey, vancouver mayor, get a grip! be grateful, vancouver, all we grow in edmonton are mosquistos!
Rating: 0
Can't imagine Freight trains going through that area again after so many years ..
the NIMBY's are going to go nuts ! ... lol
Rating: +28
Save Vancouver
@Patrick - Wrong!
The land was part of a large grant given to CPR in exchange for choosing Vancouver as the treminus of transcontinental railway, which the CPR did. Most of it was subsequently sold off for housing, which was what CPR wanted to do with this plot when it was no longer being used for rail service. The city blocked that by zoning it for use as a transportation corridor only. So, the city is really just getting what it deserved.

Only an imbecile would argue that the City of Vancouver has not benefited enormously by being selected as the terminus city.
Rating: +30
Lee L
Oh this is just too too entertaining ... hilarious even!

On the one hand, the first world Vancouverites NON WEST SIDE rail and whine about West Side privilege whilst bedding down in funky 'mixed use' new urbanism digs on Main St. and Yaletown.
The West Side 'new urban gardeners' trespass (ie. 'liberate' this parcel of private land as the practice of trespassing on this same parcel was referred to by partiers and acid freaks and 'PEOPLE's PARK'ers of the long gone Kits hippie revolution days).

The only thing more hilarious (and tragic) would be for the Mayor to actually be able to BUY this land, raise the taxes of both the West and East side to pay for it, and then do what Vision does best. You got it. Rezone and build mixed use high rises on it. Oh to be in the urban garden on the day THAT is announced.

You know it's comin'. Popcorn anyone?

Rating: +22
Tracks haven't been used for over a decade and by the line given by the CP mouthpiece on CBC morning radio, there's nothing definitively planned for its use. CP corporate management tactics...playground behaviour by six year old bullies. With their attitude, caution on Vancouver on another Lac Megantic.
Rating: -16
I see the Conservative/ BC Faux-Liberals are out in full force today. Spewing divisive politics to serve your corporate masters. Anyone with a brain cell in their head can see CP is being a total asshole.
Rating: -32


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