Loonie deal: City of Vancouver may resell portions of Arbutus corridor for $1

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      For $1, the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) can get back portions of the Arbutus rail corridor in Vancouver.

      These are lands on the east side of Fir Street between West 1st and West 5th avenues.

      Before the City of Vancouver bought the nine-kilometre rail corridor from CPR in 2016, it determined that these properties will be of no use for its planned greenway.

      As Susan Haid, city assistant director of planning for Vancouver South, recalls in a report to council, there are “engineering and safety constraints” regarding the utilization of these so-called “Option Lands”.

      In the purchase agreement between the city and CPR, Article 11 stipulates that if these properties, which have a total combined area of 0.62 hectare, are removed from Arbutus Corridor Official Development Plan, CPR will have the option to buy back the lands for $1.

      “In accordance with Article 11 of the Purchase Agreement, this report recommends removal of the Option Lands from the Arbutus Corridor ODP,” Haid wrote in the report.

      According to Haid, the lands will retain their existing zonings, which include housing, commercial and industrial.

      The same staff report to council recommends the removal of lands north of West 1st Avenue, which are owned by the federal government in trust for the Squamish Nation, from the Arbutus Corridor. According to the report, the removal of these lands is a “housekeeping item”. No further explanation was available.

      Map showing lands that may be repurchased by the Canadian Pacific Railway.

      The changes to the Arbutus Corridor Official Development Plan will be subject to a public hearing scheduled on Wednesday (September 5).

      The ProVancouver party has announced that it will discuss its concerns about the Arbutus corridor arrangement at the public hearing next week.

      “Given their location, the various parcels would likely fetch hundreds of millions of dollars if sold to developers,” according to a ProVancouver statement.

      It pointed out that the most northerly land, which is also the largest, can be “set aside for public housing”.

      The party also questioned the city’s position that it’s difficult to include the excess lands for its greenway plan.

      “If the City can commit millions of dollars to demolishing the viaducts and completely redeveloping the Northeast False Creek area, coping with a few level street crossings should not be an issue,” ProVancouver stated.

      The party also noted that the disposal of the properties will “deny the City the opportunity to join the Greenway all the way to False Creek and the Seawall”.

      ProVancouver added that two of the parcels can be added to the existing Granville Loop Park.