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Residents Along Arbutus Corridor Upset Over Demolition of Their Gardens By CP Rail


DonLever

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From CKNW:

People living along the Arbutus corridor are still fuming as they try to save long-standing gardens while CP Rail crews clears its lands.

Some of the gardens have been here since the 1940s, and trains ran through with no problem.

Says resident Elsie Sands: “When we first started, we did see train vehicles going along the track, so we know for sure they can run their railway without taking out our garden. And we think it’s more a political issue in the negotiation.”

What she doesn’t understand is why gardeners are not being given until end of the growing season so they can salvage as many plants as possible.

Meanwhile, a window was smashed at a backhoe along the corridor overnight and CP police are looking into it.

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From CBC:

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says CP Rail ignored his request for facilitated talks, as the firm rips up community gardens nurtured for years along the disused Arbutus corridor railway.

Today's residents are caught in the middle of a decades-old dispute between CP Rail and the city ever since the city refused to allow the railway to develop the land and insisted it remain a greenway.

The dispute went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, which in 2006 ruled the city had final say over whether to allow development of the corridor, but the railway still maintained the right to use it for train traffic.

'The actions by CP are counterproductive, unnecessary, and disrespectful.'
- Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson

"CP's removal and destruction of long-standing structures along the Arbutus Corridor is completely unwarranted, and these actions are simply a bullying tactic," Robertson said in a news release Friday.

"The City offered to purchase the land at fair market value, which CP rejected...There is no business case to reactivate cargo trains along the Corridor, and the City's right to control the zoning was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada."

Robertson said he had written to the head of CP Rail in July in hopes of reaching a long-term solution through facilitation discussion.

"[This request] has been ignored," said Robertson. "The actions by CP are counterproductive, unnecessary, and disrespectful."

arbutus-community-garden-destoryed.jpg

A community garden encroaching on CP Rail's right-of-way is removed. (CBC)

CP says the city's offer isn't what it considers fair. It says the railway shouldn't be faulted for behaving like one.

In a statement issued Thursday, CP Rail spokeswoman Breanne Feigel said it is following through on what it had said it would do — remove obstructions along the track to get it up to federal operating standards for a rail right-of-way.

"We approached the work carefully and were respectful to our neighbours along this corridor," said the statement. "CP Police and other officials were on the property to ensure public safety as machinery was being used."

The statement went on to say work will continue into next week and asked that the public respect the corridor as CP private property and stay out of the area "for their safety and the safety of CP Rail crews."

Community gardens destroyed

CP Rail brought in heavy equipment Thursday afternoon and began tearing down structures and removing the community gardens that local residents have nurtured for years along the disused railway.

image.jpg

CP Rail tears up community gardens2:01

On Wednesday, "no trespass" signs went up and crews moved in with weed whackers to cut back vegetation, but the community gardens remained untouched. By Thursday, however, the clearing of the rail line was underway in earnest.

Gardeners like Kate Wilczak say the removal of the gardens has nothing to do with trains.

"This has absolutely everything to do with CP feeling that the city isn't meeting their negotiations. Even though the city has made an offer and is willing to negotiate. This is CP greed — this is greed."

Local resident Gerry Oldman stood helplessly by while the community garden he spent years building was destroyed.

"My son and my wife and I spent hours in that garden, you know, building the soil every year and planting," he said looking at the remains.

"You know, not wanting to hurt anybody, not wanting to be in anybody's way, just quietly going about our ​business and planting food that we love. And now it's gone."

Oasis of flowers and veggies

Trains haven't run along the line in more than a decade and some gardeners have spent 20 years or more trying to create an urban green space there — an oasis of flowers and trees.

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People can be so ignorant. Gardens along train tracks is a stupid and dangerous idea. These people had their fun now CP wants to use the tracks again, so shut up already.

Cp has no intention of using these tracks at all. This is purely cp not being happy with the offer the city of vancouver gave for this land and they are doing this for leaverage.

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Cp has no intention of using these tracks at all. This is purely cp not being happy with the offer the city of vancouver gave for this land and they are doing this for leaverage.

They're spending millions of dollars to make them usable they are going to be used. I believe the original idea was to make it a trolley system but the vancouver city lowballed cp and they are now doing it themselves.

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I'm the ultra-hardcore capitalist supporter of private property rights, but there is a way of doing things with a constructive approach that shows empathy and compassion for an inclusive, positive outcome that tries to satisfy as many parties involved as possible...

It's been vacant for 25 years I'd think that negotiations would have been going on at least that long

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wow - so many people here are acting like a bunch of meth heads are trying to squat on a busy factory floor.

The gardens were there for 70 years, CP couldn't give them an extra month to harvest their veggies?

CP gave them 10+ years to harvest their veggies. They can go freeload elsewhere

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wow - so many people here are acting like a bunch of meth heads are trying to squat on a busy factory floor.

The gardens were there for 70 years, CP couldn't give them an extra month to harvest their veggies?

Since the property never belonged to the community CP can do whatever they want imo. They basically gave them 70 years to prepare for this. If anything they should have charged some sort of fee for using their land. Imagine all the interest..

You can't squat on someone's land without expecting some sort of repercussions in the future.

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