Opinion Column

Arbutus gardens railroaded for greed

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

CP Rail bulldozed gardens along with Arbutus corridor. (FILE PHOTO/24 HOURS)

CP Rail bulldozed gardens along with Arbutus corridor. (FILE PHOTO/24 HOURS)

“Great railway corporations are the most dangerous enemies popular government ever had.” — David Mills, Member of Parliament, 1872

Canadian Pacific Railway is a dirty rotten scoundrel, needlessly destroying people’s harmless gardens in the Arbutus corridor in a greedy drive to pressure Vancouver to buy its railway line land for $100 million.

Clear enough? Because I’m only getting started.

I do respect private property rights. And I also believe CP Rail’s corridor must be retained as a potential future transportation line, not for housing.

What I don’t respect is the deliberate devastation of up to 350 permitted community gardens along an 11-kilometre ribbon of land through the city – for the sole purpose of forcing Vancouver to pay CP Rail $80 million more than the $20 million offered.

The vicious tactics are calculated to enrage citizens before a municipal election so that Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson feels forced to surrender.

But the fact is that thousands of Vancouver residents took land CP Rail shamefully neglected since its last train ran in 2001 and turned it into an urban oasis.

No one can walk the abandoned CP Rail lines near Burrard and West 6th Avenue without admiring everything from fig trees to pumpkins – making the city more beautiful.

Robertson, who I support, calls CP Rail “bullies.”

It’s obvious that CP Rail has absolutely no plans to run locomotives on this track.

But CP spokesperson Breanne Feigel claims: “We’re not seeing negotiations have progressed in a positive manner, we need to utilize these assets and unfortunately that’s the work we’re doing today.”

By comparison, CP Rail happily sold Richmond 14.7 acres of land along a 3.6-km stretch of old railway track in 2010 for $5 million.

But their Vancouver strategy is based on intimidation.

CP Rail is also making another fundamental mistake.

It’s called public relations and most companies try to improve their image – but not CP Rail.

Astonishingly, CP Rail’s website says: “We do our best to be a reasonable neighbour.”

Really? How is bulldozing people’s gardens reasonable?

CP Rail is mostly owned by American firms, but its fourth-largest institutional investor is the Royal Bank of Canada.

It’s time for the Royal Bank to say CP Rail should stop railroading Vancouver and clear-cutting people’s gardens.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read more at billtieleman.blogspot.com. Email: weststar@telus.net Twitter: @BillTieleman



Do you agree or disagree with CP Rail destroying community gardens along its rail line in the Arbutus corridor?

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