July 22, 2014 2:26 pm

Striking a deal with CP over Arbutus Corridor could mean financial windfall for the city

Global News

The city of Vancouver is looking to get its hands on a very pricey piece of real estate.

In a letter to residents living along the Arbutus Railway corridor, mayor Gregor Robertson announced the city’s intention to buy the land along the corridor for “fair market value” after an independent appraisal.

This comes after CP rail said it’s looking at once again running trains along that line after a 14-year hiatus.

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CP has already notified more than 15,000 residents to remove community gardens and any other property that runs along the tracks by the end of this month, so they can re-start cargo train service. 

Robertson says CP has not been receptive to the city’s offers.

As Mayor, I strongly believe that the Arbutus Corridor should remain as it is today - an enjoyable route for people to walk, run and bike along, as well as a home to the many community gardens that contribute to our neighbourhoods. We do not believe there is any business case for CPR to reactivate trains along the Corridor, says Robertson.

Real estate experts say striking the right deal could mean a financial windfall for the city.

Realtor Lorne Goldman says the value the city is looking at depends on how it plans to use the land.

“If the city is saying it is for transportation only, it has a very small value. But if it has use for townhouses or apartments, it has a much higher value,” says Goldman.

He says under the current zoning, the land could be worth around $24 million.

But it could be worth ten times as much if the city decides to use it for residential or commercial purposes down the road.

CP told Global News they responded to the mayor last week in writing, noting that they are prepared to enter into meaningful conversations with the city.

If the city of Vancouver wishes to make an offer at fair value, CP would be pleased to receive it. CP has had a number of independent appraisals over the years done on the corridor and we are prepared to discuss. In the meantime, unless there is an offer for real constructive conversations, we will continue to move forward with our plan to use our corridor.

WATCH: Arbutus corridor rebirth?

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