Sunday, August 24, 2014

Vancouver Gardens on Arbutus Corridor Railroaded For Greed by CP Rail

Community gardens at West 6th Avenue and Pine Street - note worn out CP Rail sign - new "no trespassing" signs were put in place recently nearby - Bill Tieleman photo
CP Rail removes plots, pressuring the city to pay more for its private land

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Vancouver / The Tyee column

Tuesday August 19, 2014

By Bill Tieleman

“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. Last week, the company began tearing out the plots tended by local gardeners along its disused line, which will eventually include near Burrard and West 6th.
Let me say that I respect private property rights, and I believe the CP Rail corridor must be retained as a potential future transportation line, not for housing development.
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.
An urban oasis
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.”
CP spokesperson Breanne Feigel said on the day the removals began: "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."
But it's obvious that CP Rail has no plans to run locomotives, or anything else, on the tracks. The company is slashing and burning in order to railroad Vancouver into raising its offer.
At a minimum, the corporation should have left gardeners to finish the season and start reclaiming their property in the late fall.
In comparison, the company was happy to sell Richmond 14.7 acres of CP Rail land along a 3.6 kilometre stretch of old railway track in 2010 for $5 million for public use.
But its Vancouver strategy is based on intimidation, not accommodation with city residents.
Real neighbourly!
Aside from needlessly bulldozing gardens to try and meet their goal, CP Rail is also making another mistake.
It's called public relations. Most companies around the world try to improve their image, donating to charities, sponsoring cancer fundraisers and ensuring residents and politicians see them as good corporate citizens.
Astonishingly, CP Rail claims on its website that: "We do our best to be a reasonable neighbour."
Really? How is bulldozing a neighbour's garden reasonable?
CP Rail continues: "Just as you take care of the things you own, such as your home and yard, CP does the same for our property. We take special care in maintaining our right-of-way -- the area on both sides of our tracks -- and work hard to quickly address any concerns regarding its appearance."
Is cutting the grass and pulling the weeds after 13 years CP Rail's idea of taking special care of its appearance?
Who'll stand up?
Led by cost-cutter American Hunter Harrison, CP Rail's three largest investors are big U.S. hedge funds or financial institutions. Not one of its board of directors comes from B.C.
So don't expect the company to care much about what happens in Vancouver or even Canada.
The fourth largest institutional investor, however, is the Royal Bank of Canada. It spends millions in advertising to keep and win customers here. 
It's time for RBC to publicly say that CP Rail should stop railroading Vancouver and clear-cutting people's gardens.

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14 comments:

Nestaken Squire said...

Dear Bill
Thank you for the wonderful column on this subject. It is most unfortunate that you had to write the article as this sort of bad behaviour should not have happened. My response is as to why a court would not grant an injunction to protect the right of individual's assets started the vegetation in good faith. Also, as this practise happened for many years, would not some sort of grandfather right apply.

Cameron said...

Bill

You are most right. The railroad company clearing it's own land!! The Brutes!! I might suggest that the good people along the tracks, bring their gardens to your house and set up shop. Why should you have ownership rights on your property if CP can't?

Anonymous said...

"My response is as to why a court would not grant an injunction to protect the right of individual's assets started the vegetation in good faith."

The basic aspect of trespassing on privately owned land takes precedence, even if said land is not being currently used. So such a claim would be dismissed by the court. It is CP's land, they have clear title to the right of way even though it has not been actively used in 14 years. Not using owned land does not diminish ownership.

"Also, as this practise happened for many years, would not some sort of grandfather right apply."

No, for the same reason. If you bought land, used it, and then for some reason of your choosing ceased to be active with it either whole or any part it, it is still yours and any person who comes in and starts using any part of it is enroaching on your land, and therefore is trespassing. You have the right to remove unwanted activity on your land given that you provide advance notice to either vacate said part of land, or have the activity removed.

DPL said...

As an observer of treaty negotiations we were told of a huge number of railway use of land in BC( I remember a number , over 600 was allowed) but when no longer needed the land reverted to the crown. If those rails were removed, the land could possibly be of interest of a local band as it's in their traditional land base. Would make an interesting court case. Far greater than the present and long time trespass in the right of way.

Nestaken Squire said...

Let me clarify my thought as to an action in a court of law. No way did I suggest any Judge would grant an evergreen order as to the use of the land in question. However,according to my West Gorge(ous) GF, there could be an order to delay the process until the harvest was complete. In this case would Hell A Ween not be reasonable? Where is Judge Judy?
As a final thought, Mr. Bill T has taken this case to the court of public opinion. I and many others appreciate his "cents" of duty to inform the great unwashed and that is my two senses worth. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

"As an observer of treaty negotiations we were told of a huge number of railway use of land in BC( I remember a number , over 600 was allowed) but when no longer needed the land reverted to the crown."

If the railway serves notice to Transport Canada, that the selected line will be retired, the railway owner has an option to retain use, or sell the right of way.

In this instance the land is still in title to CP.



"If those rails were removed, the land could possibly be of interest of a local band as it's in their traditional land base."

That would have to be proven. Did they actually use the entire strip of land? Seems your equating the recent Court decision to apply in this case, which doesn't apply since CP still has ownership of the land, and has not filed for abandonment as it did with the Lulu Island (Steveston) Line which was sold to the City of Richmond.


"Would make an interesting court case. Far greater than the present and long time trespass in the right of way."

Of course for those who hate corporations and want to see the FN to take over everything even land they probably never trod upon based on archaelogical evidence.

Anonymous said...

However,according to my West Gorge(ous) GF, there could be an order to delay the process until the harvest was complete.

No there wouldn't. The rights of ownership supercede any enroachment use of private property. the Court would not impose sanction on privately owned land in favour of those who trespass.

"In this case would Hell A Ween not be reasonable? Where is Judge Judy?"

She's in your TV mind. Her methodology of court would not work here.

As a final thought, Mr. Bill T has taken this case to the court of public opinion. I and many others appreciate his "cents" of duty to inform the great unwashed and that is my two senses worth. Thank you!

Bill is just reaching out with his opinion. He's missing a few basic fundamentals here. If he had land and some was not being used, could you trespass onto his backyard which isn't being used and set a garden without his consent? No.

Could you park your boat-on-the-trailer on an unused part of his yard simply because it would provide easier access to you and not clutter up your own yard?

No.

Anonymous said...

Hello Mr. Bill as I type the song Birthday by Miss Perry is playing on the Ocean in Victoria. My West Gorge GF is a April 20th top heavy, tom boy that knows where the Jim is.Four two months and two days, we have been an item. Why is it a factor that is important is because I have more in my life than typing comments to you. It would appear to me some Anonymous just enjoys posting comments against common sense.I am sure you and your faithful readers laugh as in out loud as to those comments.Now Mr. T, I have no problem and thank you for allowing stupidity to be posted. It certainly provides a good laugh for the day. Not much more I KEN add except to say that you must keep up with columns that are important. I remain your humble reader as in the most.

Anonymous said...

.Now Mr. T, I have no problem and thank you for allowing stupidity to be posted. It certainly provides a good laugh for the day.

I agree. the guy who posts referring to his West Gorge GF and rambles on is a bit out of it.

His opinions can be summed up with his own line:

"I have no problem and thank you for allowing stupidity to be posted"

But this is an area of opinion.

If Mr. West Gorge GF doesn't like some of the opinions, well so what? It's not his blog, it's Bill's.

Nestaken Squire said...

Final message from the Gorge as in the West, I am bored by the copy cat as it is not a jaguar. Therefore as this opinion on the subject has reached a conclusion, I await your next lecture on a subject of important. Thank you William for your thoughts.

e.a.f. said...

CP's actions are simply petty. They did it because they could and they want the city of Vancouver to pay them more money. CP wouldn't have done anything with the land, but now see a way to make money. As to "running a railway to no where" you do have to wonder what CP's real agenda is. Are the meddling in civic affairs?

If the city pays CP what they want, they'd be foolish. C.P. most likely wants to build housing on the site and make a lot of money.

This is what happens when foreign corporations own a lot of a country. Perhaps it is time Canada has a look at who may or may not own land in this country. If foreign corporations own too much of a country, they country fails to be a country.

Anonymous said...

Hey you at E.A.F nice comment and I agree.

Anonymous said...

Well, the suit to stop CP from clearing the gardens, spraying, and doing any work to convert the "Marpole Spur" back to rail use has been filed by the City. One of the most accomplished constitutional lawyers in the country crafted the suit. It may not win out in the end; but if the judge issues injunctions until a final disposition of the suit, CP should be stopped in its tracks (as it were) for several years. I suggest it is time for them to have a serious re-think of what they are doing. Or maybe they should just panic.

Anonymous said...

Well, the suit to stop CP from clearing the gardens, spraying, and doing any work to convert the "Marpole Spur" back to rail use has been filed by the City. One of the most accomplished constitutional lawyers in the country crafted the suit. It may not win out in the end; but if the judge issues injunctions until a final disposition of the suit, CP should be stopped in its tracks (as it were) for several years. I suggest it is time for them to have a serious re-think of what they are doing. Or maybe they should just panic.