WE NEED YOUR HELP: SEE THE ONLINE PETITION BELOW
JULY 31ST IS THE DEADLINE: CPRAIL HAS POSTED NOTICES THAT GARDENS ARE TO BE REMOVED BASED ON THEIR RECENTLY COMPLETED LAND SURVEY
Many community gardens are affected by this action–gardens that have been established for years, have city permits and which co-existed with CPRail’s trains going by until they ceased in 2001/02.
1. On line petition to support community gardens. We need more signatures Note: This is different to greenspace petition at Kits Day. We need people to sign
2. There is also a facebook page for Saving greenspace on the Arbutus Corridor which also has the online petition
If you do Facebook, please click the Likes button. And forward to friends
3. PROVINCIAL AND FEDERAL POLITICIANS SPEAK OUT: Please note that 2 Provincial MLAs, David Eby (Vancouver-Point-Grey) and George Heyman (Vancouver-Fairview) have written to CPR CEO in support of the community gardens. (Posted this page to the right)
Note also Van-Quadra MLA Joyce Murray has an open letter to CP Rail below urging CPRail to work with gardeners and the communities along the Arbutus Corridor
5. Vancouver Sun Editorial:
- Arbutus line should remain green for now
Until both sides stop squabbling, gardens must stay
Vancouver Sun July 9, 2014 http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Editorial+Arbutus+line+should+remain+green/10014907/story.html
6. This news was published on the City Farmer website:
Vancouver could lose more than 10% of community garden plots due to Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) decision
(the photo of a train passing the community gardens on 6th avenue which is on our home page is from the City Farmer website with the caption:
CPR train passing the Maple Street Community Gardens in 2001. Photo by Sharon Slack taken at the corner of 6th Avenue and Maple Street. )
Also from the City Farmer Website: a letter to the President of CPR from a longtime community gardener in the Maple Community Garden.
By Deirdre Phillips
Maple Street Community Gardener
July 9th, 2014
E. Hunter Harrison, CEO CP Rail (care of Ed Greenberg)
Chief Executive Officer and Director
“We have historic ties with communities along our tracks and our programs make contributions to the quality of life in these towns and cities.” CP Rail
Dear E. Hunter Harrison,
The above quote from your “Community Investment” section on your website is in complete contradiction to the power play that you and your executives are posing with the City of Vancouver – whom you refer to as ‘other parties’. You are threatening to destroy all the community gardens by July 31st, 2014 along the Arbutus Corridor simply because you can’t get what you are looking for in your negotiations with the City of Vancouver for the 66 foot wide ribbon of land along the Arbutus Corridor.
Your threat to remove what you call ‘excess vegetation’ along the tracks in the Arbutus Corridor by July 31st, 2014 is pure manipulation and quite a transparent attempt to get all of the community gardeners along the corridor to do your dirty work for you by putting pressure on the City of Vancouver. Yes, all of us gardeners love organic dirt but not dirty politics and your goal to maximize profits for your shareholders.
I understand that CP is a business, and as such, profit is an important component for you as a CEO. Still, I believe that there are other benchmarks that make a company successful which includes being a good corporate citizen. I know that many of your shareholders would agree that respect for the environment is a key value for our modern society and you need to respect those of us at the ground level who are walking the talk and have nurtured the development of these gardens along this ribbon of land along the Arbutus Corridor in the interim of which you have left this narrow tract of land unused since 2001.
The original granting of the land by the City back in the day to your corporation was to build a railroad for public transportation and to now claim that CP has full rights to profit without considering the public and civic interest is just plain wrong. CP has made enough money already from the use of this land both from passenger transport and briefly cargo that makes the profile of this land holding unique in that it’s original use was to mutually benefit both your corp and the public interests – and the use of the land should remain so without bogus notions that CP ‘owns’ the land and has a right to maximize profits for it’s shareholders above any other civic and public interest.
What we are doing as gardeners and citizens of Vancouver along the corridor is in line with our society’s values and trends towards land stewardship and ecological awareness. Ecological, social and economic issues are all deeply intertwined and CP needs to step up to the plate and commit to working out a deal with the City of Vancouver that may necessitate compromise. There can be no solution without compromise and recognition of the values that are at stake here.
Ultimately, please recognize that ignoring these values will affect CP’s profits and the future of your company, and you would be a wise leader to recognize this and act accordingly and negotiate in good faith with the City of Vancouver to preserve the use of this land for good public use in our modern times.
To elaborate, our gardens are a very important element of our city and community on so many levels. The City of Vancouver, regardless of the administration in charge, has made community gardens one of the top priorities in our urban environment as part of the overall City plan. Our members and gardens provide food security and beauty to our neighbourhood, along with a chance for all passerby’s to interact with the natural world giving a respite from the concrete jungle and the daily grind of modern living. I cannot tell you how many people over the years have expressed their delight and gratitude to what we have created here.
My assumption given this dramatic notice to clear the ‘excess vegetation’ by CP is that the City has not offered CP enough money for the use of the 66 foot strip of land under the current stipulations to maintain it as a greenway. For CP to now after years and years of having community gardens there to claim the corporation wants to use it again for business purposes is pure invention and a power play on your part to force the City’s hand.
CP obtained the land through a grant from the Province of B.C. in 1886 to build the railway and now you want to maximize your profits on a narrow strip of land in a neighbourhood that that has some of the most valuable land in the City of Vancouver. Your real estate arm Marathon Realty has been drooling over the potential for development of this 66 foot tract of land for years – minus the largely un-used rail line.
The bylaw by the City to restrict your 66 foot wide strip of land along this corridor to ‘green’ use is sensible and responsible to Vancouver’s citizens and you need to accept this and work within what you perceive to be a restriction to profit for your shareholders. I’m sure CP has other profit based enterprises that should keep your shareholders happy. The fact is that CP has not used or maintained the track since 2001. To claim that you are now doing maintenance and prepare it to use for a Training environment for staff is ridiculous.
What I believe you are doing is trying to claim that you have been using the land to fulfill ‘use of the land’ to support your negotiations with the City when in fact it has remained untouched by your corporation since 2001. I have been gardening there since the late ‘90’s and I am a witness to this.
Your claims on your website and in the media that you are “upgrading’ the rail line quoting safety concerns is pure chicanery. There are no legitimate reasons to start using the rail line for commercial purposes and frankly it’s insulting to the intelligence of ‘all parties’ concerned to pose this as an reason for clearing the ‘unauthorized encroaching vegetation’ – i.e. our garden. The fact that you refer to the beautiful community gardens that have been there for years as ‘unauthorized encroaching vegetation’ is grossly inaccurate and designed to inflame.
Full disclosure. I am a community gardener at 6th and Maple (Maple Community Gardens). In fact, when I first joined the garden years ago CP was running trains through there with no impact – all was well. The trains and gardeners co-existed. Our community gardens are not random garden plots put together by a bunch of citizens – but organized and legitimate organizations licensed through the City of Vancouver.
We are committed members of the community who grow food and make our community a beautiful place to live. However, if it takes claiming squatters rights, which do exist legally, let it happen. You have not used the rail line since 2001 so yes I’m happy to be classified as a squatter for the value that I and the other gardeners add to our community.
‘All parties’ concerned (that’s CP and the City of Vancouver) need to put their big boy and girl pants on and work this out. You are being a very poor corporate citizen fostering a lot of ill feelings that will not bode well for your company or your stockholders. The threat to destroy our community gardens along the Corridor is pure grandstanding on your part.
I invite you to visit us and step into our environment (from your home base far far away in Florida, U.S.A.) and get a real taste for the beauty and community that has been developed in our neighbourhood for the past 20 years in the community gardening along this narrow tract of land.
Do you really want destroying our community gardens to be your legacy?
The above letter was written by By Deirdre Phillips, Maple Community Garden.