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.”