Sunday, 6 July 2014

Fit to be tied: railing on over the Arbutus corridor.

Gidday, Peeps! What do you know? It's time to train again! You know that old saying "The more things change, the more they stay the same"... ? 

Don't believe it for a minute.  This photograph, looking south-west at Granville Island from downtown Vancouver in 1946, shows the Granville Bridge, the Burrard Bridge, and the old railway bridge over False Creek, which ended at the old Canadian Pacific (CP) railway yard on the north shore of the creek. All that's left of that yard today is the Roundhouse, Yaletown's community, arts, and recreation centre.

False Creek looks quite a bit different today.

Notice how the train bridge has disappeared?  See any train yards?  Funny, that.  They've been gone for yonks.
At the south end of the Burrard Bridge today you'll find the terminus of the Arbutus Corridor, a hotly contested tract of land running through Vancouver, from the Fraser River to False Creek.  In 2000, Vancouver City counsel passed a bylaw which determined that the corridor should be a public thoroughfare. CP contested the bylaw, but the Supreme court upheld it.  Since then, they have made an awful lot of noise about selling that land to develop it.  Since the public, the city, and the country all object to their plans, they have decided to pretend they are planning to re-opening that corridor to rail traffic.  Never mind that it goes no-where, dead-ending at a marina.

The Arbutus Corridor terminus: an overgrown patch of grass.
CP's letter to area residents this week states that 

“The Arbutus corridor is a valuable asset for CP; therefore, as with all our assets, we must optimize its use on behalf of our shareholders,” CP said in a recent letter to area residents. “CP has discussed the future of the Arbutus line with the City of Vancouver for several years. Unfortunately, discussions have now ended without compromise. CP remains open to further discussions but, failing that, we must move forward with our operational options.”

The overgrown track runs along under those power poles.
According to the Globe and Mail, CP's "letter says all personal items, such as sheds, structures and gardens, within CP land are to be removed by the end of the month. Survey stakes have been placed along the route and CP has also posted a map of corridor boundaries on its website.

CP has not yet decided whether trains will be reintroduced on the route, CP spokesman Ed Greenberg said on Thursday.
“This is the next stage of reviewing operational options for this corridor,” Mr. Greenberg said, adding that the encroachments need to be cleared so that engineers can determine what needs to be done to bring tracks up to federal regulatory standards." But what for?!  What could they possibly run a rail line TO? 

There are a lot of gardens along the corridor, 



productive spaces.

Lovely Gabriel gave me a turnip and some greens, bless his heart.

He called what he does Guerilla Gardening.  Draft me, Uncle Sam. I am all for that kind of Guerilla Warfare. In fact, in my imagination, (where you know I spend as much time as possible) I have tons of cash at my disposal. I use it to grow vertical gardens (with symbiotic fish farms) on every available southern facing surface in town. Sigh... always the dreamer... :D

As it stands now, you can walk, or ride a bike all along the tracks, making your way through the city in the most peaceful possible way.  

And hey!  If you ride from the Fraser River to False Creek along the corridor today, you can stop right near the end for a cuppa coffee to enjoy along with the view once you reach the grassy terminus.  And really, you might as well stop, because the route takes you right THROUGH the Starbucks at Granville Island.

Do you suppose that means the structure will have to be removed by the end of the month?

You'll find the corridor flush with all sorts of interesting gardening ideas.

That's probably because it goes through all sorts of Vancouver neighbourhoods.

Including some of the hoods up in the hills...

Oh, I know!  Maybe they can re-open the railway line to serve the new McLaren dealership down there on second ave, right across from Lamborghini, and down the road from Lotus.  

What with the cost of living here in Vancouver, we're all growing tremendously, unbelievably wealthy and are in need of a fuckload more high end, luxury cars.  Across the board.  All of us.  We'll need train loads full of 'em.  For sure.  Yeah that's it.  

Where were we?

Oh yeah... the line also crosses its fair share of roads, arterial and otherwise.  

Can you imagine Broadway, 

-already the busiest transit corridor on the continent- ground to a halt to make way for pointless rail traffic? 

 Sure, that'll go over well.

I never thought of Bea as a track bike before, but you see?  Sometimes things change.  When the Arbutus corridor line was built, there was a tangible, viable commercial purpose for the track.  You simply cannot say the same thing today.  What does CP intend to move through here today?  Bitumen from the Tar Sands? They could unload it at the dock by the farmer's market on Granville Island. That's certain to be a very popular choice.  Or maybe they intend to move Vancouver's  water treatment chlorine along this corridor. What could possibly go wrong with that?  Orrrrrr they could use it to haul crushed ice to the yachtsmen at the marina. Ah yes, that MUST be it. Prolly the very same fellas about to make a killing off developing that corridor....

Let's be serious for a minute. It's just greed, pure and simple. CP is doing this because they want money. The bosses in the 'C' suite offices, along with the rest of the major shareholders, want money for it, despite the fact that they paid absolutely NOTHING for the property in the first place.  The province granted it to them in 1886, presumably because what suited CP's interests at the time also suited the province.

Ha! It looks like I was dead wrong. CP doesn't have a very good track record, and they're not doing anything to improve it. This nation was built on greed, and the appropriation of territorial and community lands for the benefit of a few specific individuals, and at least in that respect, nothing has changed.

PS.  Hello!

Strangely enough, the bridge at the bottom of the Arbutus corridor burned down this week.... 


  1. They will use the rail line to haul cash out of the country to accounts in Grand Cayman!

  2. I am all for development and progress bla bla bla. The Highline Park is a hit in NYC. Although somehow, the idear of taking a whole bunch of big trucks off the road and using (electric) rail would be awesome. In "Industry City" Brooklyn a lot of track was paved over or still sits half covered ready to snag inattentive cyclists' wheels. The thing is, there is productive although somewhat blighty industry there. In the situation you describe, it seems it will take an imperial fucktonne load of capital (when you need a lot of "money", you call it "capital") to get it going and it would seem really not to offer a real return. I say leave it and let the yachtsmen and yachtswomen haul their own ice chips in their Landrovers and 4 wheel drive Lambos.

    Great pictures!


    1. Thank you! I wish I could say I had taken them. :)

      False Creek used to have a bit industry, but not any more. The only way that corridor makes sense as a rail system is if it is put to light rail transit duty.

    2. Hey! I heard that Wall St is finally starting to take wellness, and the work/life balance seriously, and that companies like CitiBank, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, and others have all done a 180, and now enforce time out of the office on weekends, and mandatory vacation time.

      Gasp. Can it really BE? Is it TRUE?

    3. "We" have a mandatory 2 week vacation which must be taken every year. The sinister part is it's to see if anything goes awry in your absence and were covering anything up. Or, to ensure you have good backup and are not someone "indispensible". I.e. as the old boss would say, "If you get hit by a bus, who covers for you?" (I would say, "if I won the lottery who would cover"!).
      We've had 'summer hours' from time to time, early leave Fridays, except there's always too much to do and we stay at least the full day anyway. Our European HQ has nice fitness facilities and stuff. I just basically lock my bike up to a sign post. There's my workout plan! I need to put 2 new tires on my Olmo and the Schwinn needs some spoke love on the flexy untrue rear wheel. Peugeot fender bike today!

  3. "...and are in need of a fuckload more high end, luxury cars"

    Not to nitpick, but don't you folks on the northern side of the border measure these things in Metric Fuck-Tonnes?


  4. Turn it into a rails to trails multi-use-path? Unfortunately the SCOTUS peed on that parade for us in your basement...

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Everybody loves watersports!

      And heyyyy! If that land were returned to its pre-grant owners, it would once again belong to the people of BC, and the city could do with it as it deems fit, without needing to pay off CP Rail with the "compromise" they are seeking.

  5. It's funny how companies that got land grants for one purpose a long time ago now turn it to profit. In Sydney the Catholic church was granted most of the Manly/North Head peninsula for use of education, religion and health. Now they use it for land development. And no-one says boo. By the way Manly is incredibly beautiful and still home to a penguin rookery and native bandicoots, which you can share if you pay the Catholic church at least $2million -check out their website and wonder how much that does to advance education etc....

    1. Wow! That is quite the development. For a mere two million, you're sure to get a lot of action. People will be praying to the almighty loudly and all night long from those gorgeous, ever so Godly bedrooms.

  6. ...I always knew you were from the wrong side of the tracks, beauty...

    ...but then again, when it comes to big business / government, "we, the people" are all seen as being from the wrong side of the tracks......

    1. And it used to be that government was charged with the best interests of the populace, but no longer. Welcome to your corporatocracy, Big Brother...

      We all serve the almighty dollar now.

    2. ...the unfortunate thing, as I see it, is that the dot-com generation buys into it, hook , line & sinker whether they realize it or not...

      ...these days, it's all about the plastic you carry in your wallet & everything is predicated on your electronic device(s) & make no mistake about it, whilst, yes, I too enjoy the conveniences offered, were it to all go south, most people would be clue nada when it came to knowing what to do...

      ...we're becoming a society of extremes whether it's obvious to the majority or not...

    3. ...btw - kinda cool visages of vancouver...not the usual spectacular sweeping vistas but some neat, ummm, backtracking...

      ..."happy rails to you, until we meet again..."...ohhh, wait.........

  7. What amazing legs you have! Very athletic.

    1. Thank you! They are what they are because my bike is my happy place. :D