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One-Percent For The Planet

The Arbutus Corridor

The Arbutus Corridor is a unique intact 11 km rail line that runs from False Creek to the Fraser River. Canadian Pacific Railroad (CPR) ran service on this line until 2001. In 2014 CPR began digging up the community gardens that had been in the Corridor for years.

Thousands of citizens of Vancouver have invested countless hours to beautify and make productive this unused corridor. For a variety of reasons, Vancouver is very lucky to have this nationally recognized pathway of biodiversity in our community.  We would like to take this opportunity to remind you of the many health, social, economic, and environmental benefits provided by the Arbutus Greenway:

Health:The Arbutus Greenway provides a space for citizens of all ages and backgrounds  to stay physically active by working and recreating in this natural space.  This is particularly important for seniors and children in an increasingly densely populated city.    Individuals and families use the Greenway regularly as a pathway for daily walks and runs.  It provides an opportunity in the heart of the city to get out and enjoy some fresh air, see many different plants and insects in the city, get some physical activity in a mentally calming space.   Green space in the middle of the city is incredibly important to offset the busyness of the city.  As well many people garden in the Greenway, which is the most popular form of exercise for people of all ages.  The Greenway is an important part of the healthy fabric of the city. 

Social:The Arbutus Greenway provides a safe urban space by providing a welcoming space that is cared for and used.  There are many community gardens along the Greenway, which provide an avenue for residents to connect and build community.  Our city needs more places for communities to connect, not less.  These types of very local community building spaces are crucial.

Economic: The Arbutus Greenway provides community members with a place for learning, experience, and connection.  The Greenway is used for lunch outings, informal meetings, and educational field trips, all of which add overall value to the neighbourhood.  Urban gardens provide opportunities for people of all ages to learn how to grow food, take care of gardens, and maintain beehives.  In addition, the Greenway has the potential to be a tourist attraction, much like the SkyLine is in New York City.  In other words, as part of the Greenest City objective of the city, this oasis that transects some of the most beautiful parts of the City could be an economic generator.  It is well established that the parks and natural environment of Vancouver is one of the main attractions for tourists to our City. 

Environmental: The Arbutus Greenway provides a continuous corridor and habitat for many important organisms in the urban environment, such as pollinators.  It also provides a greenspace with many plants that are providing carbon sequestering and a source of oxygen in the heart of the city.  Precious greenspace such as this is to be encouraged, not undone.  

Please accept this open letter as our commitment and support for preserving this very important part of our urban landscape.  We urge the City and CPR to engage in meaningful dialogue, not posturing, to resolve the dispute over this land.   This issue is too important for politicking or threats.  There are many solutions available including commercial mediation and arbitration to find solutions.   We hope that the City of Vancouver and Canadian Pacific Railways can work together in helping preserve this piece of important land for the benefit to all.  

Some of the recent history and SPEC involvement in the last 2 decades

A jurisdiction dispute between CPR and the City of Vancouver is currently in the Supreme Court of Canada over the July 2000 decision by Vancouver City Council passing the Arbutus Corridor Official Development Plan(ODP).  The plan proposes to develop the corridor as a multi-use transportation and greenway corridor including rail, bicycle, and pedestrian use.

A public opinion poll in 2000 found that 79 percent of Vancouver residents wanted to retain the Arbutus Corridor as a transportation right of way.

Arbutus Corridor looking north from King Edward.

All Aboard the Arbutus Corridor

In 2004, SPEC launched All Aboard the Arbutus Corridor, a pubic design contest inviting the professional and general community to submit designs and ideas for the future development of the corridor. We received over 75 submissions and in February 2005 a judging panel selected the winning entries.

SPEC mounted an exhibit in the Atrium of the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, beginning with an Open House and Awards Ceremony on March 18th, 2005 which was attended by over 100 people.

View the winner submissions and a selection of other entries. Gain a unique perspective on the corridor with our link to Aerial Photography which is not to be missed!

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