Arbutus corridor gardeners working to salvage plots

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      Some gardeners along the Arbutus corridor are taking preemptive steps to protect their plots, following the removal of gardens in Marpole last week.

      Krista James, a member of the Maple Community Garden in Kitsilano, said the executive decided to cut through fences and wooden garden plots along the CP property line this week.

      “We have been trying to take some steps to reduce the amount of damage to our gardens,” James told the Straight by phone.

      “Our situation is that our gardens, although we built them in consultation with the city to make sure they were within the right amount of distance from the rail lines, when they were built about 25 years ago it looks like we got misinformation, so our gardens are currently about half on CPR property and half on City of Vancouver property.”

      James said bee hives in the garden have been moved across the tracks to ensure they’re on city property, and plants and soil located in a children’s garden have also been moved.

      She noted that some gardeners bought soil and cedar to build new pots just this past spring.

      “We don’t want the bulldozers to destroy all that beautiful wood and soil that for us was a long-term investment,” said James.

      Some people have also been harvesting what they can from their plots, like the sunflowers located on CP property.

      “Everybody’s at different stages in trying to salvage pieces of their garden and harvest their plots, but you’ll see probably 25 percent of the garden plots have a good chunk that’s now just soil, because the plants have been harvested early, so we don’t lose them,” said James.

      Maureen Ryan, a spokesperson for the Cypress Community Garden, described CP Rail’s removal of gardens along the Arbutus corridor in Marpole last week as “shocking in terms of its devastation”.

      “The gardeners at Maple and Cypress Community Garden do understand CP’s legal right to claim their right of way…what we are saddened by is that we always co-existed with CPR and the running of trains,” she said in a phone interview.

      “The claiming of the full right of way and the devastation of lilac trees, shrubs, beautiful flower plantings, is a profound loss for the city of Vancouver and for tourists and we’re saddened by that. We hope that the city and CPR will go on negotiating.”

      According to the mayor’s office, the city has offered to assist gardeners in relocating any mature fruit trees that could be impacted. It has also offered to take part in a mediated discussion with CP to resolve the issues around the corridor, according to a statement issued this week.



      That quote implies they get it...

      Aug 21, 2014 at 10:15pm

      ... but they clearly don't. Just because you've gotten a free pass for decades with respect to flagrant trespassing doesn't mean you have any more rights to it than anyone else off the street. The owners of the land can not only do what they please with it, but we should be happy we live in a country where those rights are respected.

      I get it. Pretty plants and pretty trees, green and nature and all the rest of it. If that land had been used for dog-fighting kennels for the last 20 years, we'd all be applauding CPR for dismantling the horrors houses on their lands.

      But it's actually the exact same thing. And if you're going to start arguing it's good for the environment and healthy and happy and all the rest of it, yeah, I get. But you really don't get it.

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      Aug 22, 2014 at 10:00am


      Property ownership isn't a law of physics. It's a social agreement, and that's all it is.

      CP rail has benefit enormously from very generous, even very corrupt, deals over its history and is as old as Canada. It's origin, development, and history is so tightly intertwined with government, sweetheart deals and public investment / gifts that it's an arrogant exercise in ideology to treat this company as having god-given "rights" as if it were a person, much less a normal company.

      And putting every fact and argument aside - the people behind this decision are 100% a-holes. Anyone but a conservative party activist can see that.

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      Aug 22, 2014 at 10:10am

      I'll go further. Not only are they a-holes, they're such blatant a-holes that we need to know their names. And they need to be well known for this, personally, with photos. This is such a petty anti-social act for people with power to engage in, that it deserves public shaming.

      Who, in specific, made this decision? What are their names?

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      CP Rail is a part of Vancouver...

      Aug 22, 2014 at 12:32pm

      It may be fashionable to demonize CP Rail today but Vancouver would not be what it is today had it not been CP Rail developing and selling its land grant. A land grant CP Rail had received in exchange for its promise to extend the terminus of its railroad from Port Moody to Vancouver. CP Rail kept its end of the bargain and extended the railroad to Vancouver. One may disagree but I don't think the 9 square miles granted to CP Rail was too much for the extension. Remember at the time of the grant, all this was wilderness land. It is only because of CP Rail's planning and development that this grant has become Vancouver's desirable west side between Ontario St. and Blenhiem St.

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      Aug 22, 2014 at 1:06pm

      Poor little CP Rail! Think of how it must feel about this! It's metal heart is breaking, it's so unfair! Corporations are people too!

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      Aug 22, 2014 at 4:14pm

      The survey on the front page of the Straight's site is about 60% against CP's actions, 40% supporting.

      Yet the up/down votes on the comments are at least 2:1 supporting CP.

      Organized NPA / Con party hacks? Impossible!

      (psst, this is what the next civic election is going to look like for you guys. Failing to understand the majority of Vancouver's voters, trying to game smaller forums, yet losing badly in the big picture. You're doing it right now.)

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      Aug 22, 2014 at 5:04pm

      1-CP is being a jerk
      2-Rumors in January that this may happen
      3-Formal notice was given before annual planting season began in May of CP's intentions
      Here is a comment from a resident
      During a debate over the future of CP Rail’s Arbutus Corridor, Kerrisdale resident Pamela Sauder stood up at a meeting and uttered the following breathtaking landmark of arrogance and entitlement:
      “We are the people who live in your neighbourhood. We are dentists, doctors, lawyers, professionals, CEOs of companies. We are the crème de la crème in Vancouver. We live in a very expensive neighbourhood and we’re well educated and well informed. And that’s what we intend to be.”
      2 years ago the average price of a house in that area was 2.5 million .
      Keep protecting the 1%ers , they really need your help .

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      Aug 23, 2014 at 10:27am

      @CP Rail is a part of Vancouver...

      You can say the same thing for every city that sprung up along every railway in every country in the world. CP is not in business to be kind to people. CP magnates made personal fortunes on land speculation because they knew what others didn't - that the rail terminus would be moved to what was then known as Granville (Vancouver's original name). They got the land cheap and sold it for a king's ransom because of what amounts to insider trading. They built their mansions along Georgia St and the West End - before being enticed to Shaughnessy. Many of the streets in the downtown core are named after them. They are no saints.

      I find it hilarious that so many readers of a left wing magazine suddenly become all corporate and law abiding when it comes to the Arbutus corridor. The only reason is that it's on the west side of the city, and there's nothing socialists and low/no wage earners hate more than people who have more money than them.

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      Follow the money

      Aug 23, 2014 at 4:24pm

      I suspect CP Rail is playing the part of "bad guy" so the mayor doesn't have to. Really, is the city going to buy the property from CP and then let the gardens continue as they have been? I don't think so. Once the city buys the property from CP it will be used for the benefit of all which means the gardens will have to go. What mayor wants the job of evicting the gardeners? The answer to me is the mayor wants CP to get rid of the gardens and won't buy the land until they're gone.

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      Aug 25, 2014 at 12:48am

      You are right. CP Rail is not in business to be kind to people. CP Rail is in business to turn a profit. In doing so, it has provided goods and services that people desire such as rail service and good neighbourhoods.

      CP Rail certainly made good money from land sales but probably not the king's ransom you imagined. They started subdividing the lots in Kitsilano Point for sale in the 1900's. Many of those lots sat unwanted for 30 years until the 1930's. Land further south along Oak Street remained in CP Rail hands until the 1960s. Meanwhile CP Rail, as a private owner, was paying property tax on all its unsold land for all those years.

      Lastly, much of the value we see today in the original CP Rail lands appreciated over the last 30 years, after the land had passed from CP Rail ownership.

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