Letter from CP train company calls Arbutus Corridor gardeners 'trespassers'

12th and Cambie

 

Gardeners can be unruly at times.

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Take what they did along the Arbutus Corridor with all those illegal gardens they planted on Canadian Pacific-owned land.

Guerrillas!

West Side scofflaws!

As regular readers of the Courier will know, the corridor has been in the news lately and was amped up this week with Mayor Gregor Robertson again saying the city is willing to purchase the CP lands for “fair market value.”

That’s because CP is talking about running trains on the tracks along the corridor, something it hasn’t done since 2001. In order to do that, it has to get rid of the gardens built by “trespassers” along the corridor.

I put trespassers in quotes because I’m quoting from a July 21 letter written by Mike LoVecchio, CP’s director of government affairs. LoVecchio was responding to a letter authored by David Eby, the NDP MLA for Vancouver-Point Grey.

Eby shared both letters with me.

Here’s part of what Eby wrote:

“Until a few months ago, most in our community believed that there was some level of appreciation by CP Rail for the efforts made by volunteers to turn nuisance properties overgrown with weeds and strewn with junk into beautiful community assets available to everyone. Unfortunately, the belief that CP understood the free service from which they benefited, and the community’s understanding of CP as a responsible community member interested in its neighbours’ opinions, has been severely challenged.”

And here’s part of what LoVecchio wrote:

“We are a reasonable landowner who — for some time now — has allowed the presence of trespassers on our land without retribution. I know this is a harsh description of those who have put such care into beautifying our land with their unauthorized gardens, but what would you call those who park their vehicles or build storage structures or leave abandoned items on our land without permission?”

CP has set a July 31 deadline to have gardeners remove their gardens.

More from LoVecchio: “Our intention on Aug. 1 is not to begin immediate demolition of community gardens; we have a plan on how to continue track improvement in this area and will handle the removal of encroachments as our work progresses. Should encroachments still exist on the land as we begin our work, we must remove them. The safety of our employees is our number one priority and non-negotiable.”

In Eby’s letter, he wrote that he hoped CP’s actions “have been the simple consequence of a large company with many moving parts inadvertently acting in a way that is threatening its community relationships.”

Added Eby: “Our hope is that, now that you have some understanding of the dynamics at play, the company would take the time necessary to meet with affected neighbours in order to minimize the impacts of this recent policy change. Many involved with the gardens seem convinced that simple discussions about mitigation, undertaken in good faith, could be incredibly positive and result in a win-win for all involved.”

LoVecchio again: “CP remains open to dialogue with residents in the area; however, we are unable to waver on our commitment to our shareholders in optimizing this valuable asset.”

Over to you Mayor Gregor Robertson…

mhowell@vancourier.com

twitter.com/Howellings

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