News / Vancouver

City of Vancouver buys Arbutus corridor from CP Rail for $55M

The City of Vancouver and Canadian Pacific Railway have finally reached a deal for the city to buy the Arbutus corridor for $55 million.

A rendering of the Arbutus Greenway.

Contributed

A rendering of the Arbutus Greenway.

The City of Vancouver has finally reached a deal with Canadian Pacific Railway to buy the Arbutus corridor for $55 million to develop into a green transportation corridor for pedestrians, bikes and maybe even light rail or a streetcar. 

Mayor Gregor Robertson and CP President Keith Creel held a joint press conference Wednesday to announce the deal for the nine-kilometre, 42-acre line from False Creek to the Fraser River after more than a decade of failed negotiations and legal battles.

The final price tag was more than double the $20 million the city previously indicated it would pay for the prime, west side real estate, but far less than the reported $100 million CP originally demanded. (The railway’s CEO published an open letter stating the land was worth $400 million.) 

“Thanks to this landmark agreement, the city will be able to transform the area into an outstanding greenway and connect neighbourhoods from False Creek to Marpole,” Robertson said in a statement. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, not unlike New York’s High Line and other international examples.”

“We are pleased that today's landmark agreement allows the city to create a transportation corridor and greenway while providing a fair return to CP and our shareholders,” Creel said in a statement.

The Arbutus corridor in Vancouver.

Jennifer Gauthier/Metro

The Arbutus corridor in Vancouver.

The final deal includes a profit sharing clause should the city sell any of the land in the future. If it does, CP will get 75 per cent of the first $50 million, half of the second $50 million and a quarter of the third $50 million. The city has repeatedly promised the land will only be used as a transportation corridor.

CP hasn’t run trains on the line since 2001 when it lost its last customer, the Molson Brewery. As the city and CP tried – and failed – to negotiate a price for the city to buy the land, pedestrians, cyclists and community gardeners started using the tracks as a greenway.

CP didn’t seem to mind until 2014 when the railway bulldozed the gardens and spent $1.3 million on plans to restore the tracks to use for railcar storage. CP will now remove the tracks as the city sets up a planning office for the greenway, where space will be reserved for a future light rail or streetcar line if necessary.

The city will ask for public input on the final corridor design to complete work on the greenway by 2018.

The approximately 350 gardeners whose plots abut the land are asked not to expand back into the bulldozed areas.

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