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CP wants Arbutus Corridor cleared

Gardens, sheds and vehicles must be removed from rail right-of-way by end of July
community garden
A community garden borders the rail line on the Arbutus Corridor at the foot of Fir Street. Photo Rob Newell

Canadian Pacific is posting signs and sending notices to residents along the Arbutus Corridor asking that they remove “encroachments” along its property by July 31.

The list includes sheds or other structures, vehicles, storage containers and gardens.

CP stopped using the line in 2001. Pedestrians, cyclists and community gardeners have since used the picturesque route.

The corridor, which covers 45 acres from the Fraser River to False Creek, has been the subject of a dispute between CP and the City of Vancouver for years.

But as the Courier reported in early May, CP told resident groups along the line that it’s taking steps “to use the property in support of rail operations.”

“CP engineers are now assessing the track infrastructure as part of the process to allow our railway to return the line to federal regulatory standards for when a decision is made on the type of train operations for the line,” CP spokesman Ed Greenberg said Wednesday.

“The recent survey determined that there were a number of encroachments along the corridor that lie within CP property, including gardens, small structures and other items. So in order to complete this assessment work, CP employees and contractors must be able to cut back vegetation and work with no encumbrances.”

CP says any unauthorized encroachments that lie within the rail right-of-way after July 31 will be removed “as warranted by our track maintenance work.”

Anthony Smith, who’s on the executive committee for the Cypress Community Garden, said the group has not received a formal notice yet but he’s expecting some sort of future notice since the new CPR official survey maps show the gardens as “unauthorized encroachments.”

“We look forward to working with the city and CPR to resolve this tension and find a sustainable land use model that brings more certainty to the future of all community gardens along the Arbutus Corridor,” Smith told the Courier in an email.

Greenberg said anyone who has questions or comments about CP’s plans should contact CP’s community connect line. He added that survey stakes are being erected along the Arbutus Corridor to mark CP property, but anyone who’s confused about the borders can consult the detailed survey map on CP’s website.

The City of Vancouver, meanwhile, objects to CP’s plans and council passed a motion mid-May calling for Mayor Gregor Robertson to write a letter to CP on behalf of council outlining the city’s opposition “to the proposed reactivation of cargo trains along the Arbutus Corridor, and encourage them to respect the city and neighbourhood wishes of maintaining the Corridor as a greenway for public use, until a light-rail transit line can be implemented.”

For CP’s part, Greenberg says: “For many years, CP was involved in conversations to convert the corridor for a number of combined public uses… [a] greenway, community gardens and eco-density development were recommended options but the various participants in the visioning process were unable to achieve a plan. CP remains open to continued discussions with the city but we are continuing to do our assessment of the corridor.”

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