$1 repurchase by CPR from City of Vancouver of portions of Arbutus corridor moves forward

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      Vancouver city council has received a staff recommendation regarding the creation of a new development site in False Creek.

      If approved by council after public hearing, the measure will pave the way for the Canadian Pacific Railway to repurchase portions of the Arbutus corridor from the City of Vancouver for $1.

      This $1 arrangement was provided in the 2016 purchase agreement between CPR and Vancouver over the Arbutus corridor.

      The city acquired the former rail corridor from CPR with the intent of converting the nine-kilometre stretch of land into a greenway.

      Before the sale, the city identified pieces of land on the east side of Fir Street between West 1st and West 5th avenues as unsuitable for greenway purposes.

      These properties were designated in the agreement as ‘Option Lands’, which CPR can buy back for $1.

      Under the deal, the city has to provide planning direction for the future development of the Option Lands.

      Section 11 of the purchase agreement states that after the city amends the Arbutus Corridor Official Development Plan and “approves subdivision and rezoning, as applicable, in respect of the Option Lands, CPR will have the right to re-purchase the Option Lands from the City for $1.00”.

      As recalled in a report to council by Neil Hrushowy, the city’s assistant director for community planning, the first step in planning for the future development of the Option Lands happened on July 10, 2018, when council amended the Arbutus corridor’s official development plan by removing lands not required for a greenway.

      In his report, Hrushowy recommended the creation of a new development site for rental housing at one piece of the Option Lands.

      The location is at the northeast corner of Fir Street and West 2nd Avenue.

      The triangle-shaped lot is currently used for parking.

      “Establishing the development potential of the site is being done to fulfil an obligation of the City of Vancouver…set out in the Arbutus Railway Line Purchase and Sale Agreement…,” Hrushowy wrote in the report.

      Hrushowy noted that the move will allow for the future development of a six-storey rental residential building with commercial and retail uses on the ground floor.

      “To meet the housing objectives of the False Creek ODP [official development plan], at least 20% of the rental housing floor area will be targeted to below market rents generally consistent with the City’s Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program (“MIRHP Program”),” Hrushowy explained.

      According to Hrushowy, the creation of the development site is the “final step in planning for the Option Lands and if approved, would allow for development at 1595 West 2nd Avenue”.

      “Should Council approve the proposed amendment to the Area Development Plan, in accordance with Article 11 of the Purchase Agreement, CPR will have the right to re-purchase the Option Lands from the City for $1.00,” Hrushowy stated.

      Hrushowy's report is included in council's meeting agenda Tuesday (April 28).

      Artist’s rendering of a potential housing development at one property that forms part of the Option Lands that CPR can buy back from the City of Vancouver.