Re: Vancouver buys Arbutus corridor, ending dispute with CP Rail, March 7, 2016
As an original director of the Island Corridor Foundation it would appear the ICF is quite competent in negotiating difficult and sometime lengthy deals.
Vancouver has bought nine kilometres of CP abandoned rail lands for $55 million. Several years ago the ICF negotiated 225 kilometres of active CP rail lands for a dollar plus it received an annual fibre optic rent contribution of some $300,000.
Now, with community value added initiatives, we have ‘rail with trails’, a utility corridor and four heritage stations…if our federal government could unjam and sign off their $7.5 million contribution to the $20.9 million track infrastructure upgrade we could get our passenger rail operational again…still far less than the $55 million Vancouver paid.
VANCOUVER — The City of Vancouver and Canadian Pacific Railway have reached a deal over the Arbutus Corridor, putting to rest a long-standing and bitter dispute over the future of the former rail line.
The city agreed to pay $55 million for 42 acres of land that stretches nine kilometres from False Creek through Kitsilano and the West Side to the Fraser River, Mayor Gregor Robertson told reporters Monday.
“It is now public land,” Robertson said, a little more than an hour after papers were filed to conclude the agreement.
The ink on the deal may still be fresh, but city staff already have a new name for the route — the “Arbutus Greenway” — and designs to turn it into a transportation corridor. The greenway would include walking and cycling paths and space would be set aside for future light rail or street cars.
Under the terms of the deal, any corridor land that city staff decide is not needed for the greenway can either be repurposed or sold. If sold, CPR gets a share of the take, according to a complicated schedule provided by the city. The railway company would get 75 per cent of the first $50 million in profit, 50 per cent of the second $50 million, and 25 per cent of the third $50 million. Any profit beyond $150 million goes directly to the city.
But the deal also leaves CPR the chance to exercise option on lands between West 1st and 5th avenues. Under that alternate profit-sharing scheme, the city would get 50 per cent of any proceeds CPR raised beyond $75 million, and CPR would cease to share in the profits from any corridor land sold outside of those few blocks.
CPR put pressure on the city in 2014 in the midst of discussions over the sale of the land when it brought in work crews to dismantle community gardens that had sprouted along the unused line. The railway claimed it intended to store railway cars along the corridor. The city filed an injunction to block the railway from reactivating the line, but that bid was dismissed in B.C. Supreme Court.
The city had offered the railway $20 million for the land, but CPR wanted an undisclosed amount more. Robertson told CPR in summer 2014 that the company’s idea of fair market value was a figure five times that of the city’s.
The $55 million-plus deal announced Monday put that battle to rest.
As part of the deal, CP agreed to remove its railway lines and ties from the property within two years. Meanwhile, city staff plan to spark a new project office to oversee the design of the greenway. Staff are aiming to complete the planning and consultation phase within four years. That process will identify “excess lands” and set plans for whether and how they should be developed.
By that point there will be a good idea as to what CPR will have made in the deal beyond the initial $55 million provided by the city.
The mayor described it as a “fair agreement.”
He asked community gardeners to hold back on expanding their plots of land.