The City of Vancouver and CP Rail have come to an agreement on the Arbutus Corridor, and agreed to purchase the railway route from CP for $55 million.
The deal represents 42 acres of open space, running about 9 kilometres from Milton Street at the south end, to 1st Avenue on the north end.
In late January, the Federal Agency that handles complaints about transportation announced a hearing over the future of the now-defunct rail line had been suspended until further notice.
The two sides have been negotiating intensely behind the scenes for the past month.
Since the summer of 2014, the City had been fighting CP Rail over its plans to clear the Arbutus Corridor and activate its railway.
That move followed the two sides being unable to agree to a price for the land.
Despite the City of Vancouver buying the lands for 55-million-dollars Mayor Gregor Robertson says it will be status quo for gardens right now.
“What we are asking people to do is not encroach while th epublic planningprocess happens. There are about 350 plots along the Arbutus corridor that are legitimate. Those obviously remain. It is up to the community engagement to decide whether some more gardening space could be allocated somewhere along the corridor.”
Community gardeners get apology
CP Rail is saying “sorry” to all the people who had their gardens ripped up along the corridor.
The rail company’s Chief Operating Officer Keith Creel.
“An outcry from the public, the people who are affected by that. Now, obviously, I know that some people were inconvenienced; we certainly regret any inconvenience that was caused, but it was part of the process to get to this positive day today. With that said, we’re focused on working forward and again, growing and strengthening the relationship between ourselves and the City of Vancouver.”
Canadian Pacific has two years to remove its rail line and infrastructure along the Arbutus corridor.
Creel says its fair.
“Obviously we have a different position as far as what we think of the ultimate value is of the property. With that being said we battled long enough and enough ill will was created it was time to move forward and we think that is fair for our shareholders.”
The City and CP Rail will split the revenue of any possible development of excess land along the route.
George Pinch has been gardening along the Arbutus corridor for over 30 years and has watched fellow community members have their gardens removed.
Today he and his neighbors have something to celebrate.
“Some of the gardens to the south of us, they lost a significant chunk of their garden. I think the gardeners down there would cheer and I think we would cheer with them.”
Mayor Robertson says the city will move to immediately create the Arbutus Greenway, which will eventually be comprised of both combined passenger rail and a walking/biking greenway parallel to each other.
He also says there may be future development on “excess” Arbutus lands outside the corridor, but that won’t be until well into future.