||Rob Ritchie , CEO
Canadian Pacific Railway
Dear Mr. Ritchie,
Please accept the following thoughts as my input on the fate of the Arbutus Corridor in Vancouver. I realize the issue is before the courts, but I felt I'd like to offer my opinions.
In 1886, the federal government deeded railway right-of-ways to CPR for zero dollars, including the Arbutus Line. In the last 120 years, I have no doubt that your railway has recouped the costs of building the line many times over. And now it is time to give it back to the Canadian people from whom it came.
Just my opinion,
To be specific, the right thing to do would be to give the land to the City of Vancouver to use as a light rapid transit line. With the high-speed RAV line going along Cambie St. to Richmond and the airport, the Arbutus Corridor would provide a secondary transit line for those in Marpole, Kerrisdale and Kitsilano.
I see the line developed with trolley cars, much like the old ones in the False Creek area, all the way from South Granville to Granville Island . Adjacent to the line, there could be a paved bicycle path, with hedges on either side of the transportation corridor. It is a positive addition to the transportation needs of Vancouver at a relatively low cost given the track is already there, as is the available land.
The use of this land for commercial and residential uses serves no purpose but to increase profits to your shareholders. However, it is selfish and unfair to the people of Vancouver.
We live in times of great avariciousness, what with corporate greed and government greed and waste and it would be refreshing to see business and ind ustry actually show they care about the citizens of this country instead of looking at them as cash cows to feed the insatiable machine.
I urge you to show some gratitude for the land that was given the CPR 120 years ago, and return it now that you know longer need it for a railway.
Update Status in 2014
Received December 1, 2005
Dear Mr. Smith;
Thank you for your e-mail of November 29, 2005 to Mr. Rob Ritchie, CPR's Chief Executive Officer, regarding our Arbutus lands. He has asked that I respond on his behalf.
This is a complex subject, which is viewed in many different ways by different people. One of the most common misunderstandings surrounds the original acquisition of the land. The often-repeated statement that CPR received the land for free is incorrect. The land, from approximately a block north of 57th Avenue , was acquired as part of a commercial agreement with the provincial government at the time. The agreement provided for a provincial Crown grant of that land in exchange for work and investment by the railway to link Vancouver to the transcontinental rail transportation network that, at that time terminated at Port Moody. In effect, this extension of the railway created the city of Vancouver. The lands south of 57th Avenue were purchased from other third parties at commercial rates.
Let me provide you with some background on the rail industry as a way to answer some of your questions. Many people do not realize that railways are an industry that requires significant expenditure each year to maintain their rail network. Railway companies receive no government funding and must invest their own funds to maintain track and network facilities, or to add new track and facilities. CPR invests more than $500 million per year in maintaining and upgrading its network. This year we invested more than $900 million, with a significant portion in British Columbia . This sizeable and ongoing investment requirement means we do not maintain track or facilities that do not have customers using the line. In this case we dispose of the assets, like land, and reinvest the money into the operating network. Proceeds from the sale of the Arbutus lands would be reinvested throughout British Columbia in projects that add capacity to accommodate the growth at the Port of Vancouver and to ensure the province's important coal commodity can reach worldwide markets.
CPR has not operated the Arbutus line since 2001. We prepared for the sale of the lands more in the years prior to that time. This was a conclusion with the City's stated interest at the time in acquiring the lands. In fact, the City has a number of resolutions expressing
interest in the Arbutus lands. It has had a resolution on the books for the past 19 years directing negotiations with CPR.
The issue is now before the Supreme Court and is proceeding. Our company has always been clear that we would much prefer to work with the City on a more constructive solution to the future of the Arbutus lands rather than be in court.
Thank you for your interest in the Arbutus lands and in taking the time
to write to our company.
Communications & Public Affairs
Canadian Pacific Railway