The City of Vancouver has reached a deal to buy the nine-kilometre Arbutus Corridor for Canadian Pacific Railway for $55 million.
The 42-acres of green space will be called the Arbutus Greenway, serving as a walking and cycling route, though the city says it could also serve as a light-rail or streetcar route in the future.
“Thanks to this landmark agreement, the city will be able to transform the area into an outstanding greenway and connect neighbourhoods from False Creek to Marpole,” Mayor Gregor Robertson said. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, not unlike New York’s High Line and other international examples.”
The agreement ends four years of negotiations between Vancouver council and CP, which had threatened to tear up community gardens that had sprung up along the corridor over the years.
The railway right of way hasn’t carried freight in recent years, but historically served as a passenger rail route for interurban electric trains until that system was disbanded in the 1950s.
“We are pleased that today’s landmark agreement allows the City to create a transportation corridor and greenway while providing a fair return to CP and our shareholders,” said CP president Keith Creel.
CP will remove rails and ties over the next year, so that the city can enhance public space and launch a dedicated office to oversee the design process and solicit public input.
The city said nothing will affect the 350 community garden plots on city-owned land near the rail line, but gardeners must keep their plants within the existing boundary.
The construction is set to be completed by the end of 2018.