Do you know about Vancouver’s hidden railway?
It’s actually not much of a secret. The Arbutus Corridor is an 11-kilometre-long unused rail line that stretches due south from False Creek, cutting across neighbourhoods from Fairview to Kerrisdale before ending at the Fraser River.
While officially owned by CP rail, the line has not been used since 2001. During that time, the tracks and the 50-foot-t0-65-foot strip of land they sit on have become one of Vancouver’s more distinguishing features.
Community gardens have proliferated along the idle land, as well as informal walking and biking paths that run its length. Elsewhere, brambles and vegetation have reclaimed the old industrial space. In short, the old railroad has become a giant strip of green slicing right through the heart of Vancouver.
And – at least for the moment – it looks like the unique greenway on the Arbutus Corridor is here to stay. The City of Vancouver and CP rail have been squabbling over the space for decades. The matter came to a head earlier this year, when CP announced plans to “reactivate” the Arbutus rail line and use it for commercial freight traffic. Community gardeners were even ordered to remove plants and structures that infringed on the land.
But in a welcomed twist, the City has now finally made an offer to officially buy the land for fair market value, according to an article in the Vancouver Sun. The exact amount has not been disclosed but may be in the tens of millions of dollars, if past sales of similar properties are any indication.
Should the city complete the purchase, it’s possible that long-delayed plans for the Arbutus Corridor may finally be put into effect. Over the years, many proposals have been put forth for the land, ranging from installing a paved bikeway to building residential housing and even putting in a tourist-oriented streetcar along a short side track that runs from Granville Island to Olympic Village.
The parcel of land was originally granted to the Canadian Pacific Railroad all the way back in 1886 in order to persuade the company to move its Western terminus to Vancouver (from its short-lived home in Port Moody). The corridor was used for freight and passenger traffic from 1902-1954. Freight continued to be carried until 2001.
Do you make use of the Arbutus Corridor for walking or gardening? Let us know.
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