August 2, 2016 4:39 pm
Updated: August 2, 2016 9:37 pm

Arbutus Corridor paving raises ire of some residents

Controversy continues for the Arbutus corridor. Many residents in the area are not too fond of the city's temporary solution for increasing access. Julia Foy has more on what's being done.

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After years of negotiations and brinkmanship, the City of Vancouver and Canadian Pacific Rail finally started transforming the Arbutus Corridor into a greenway in June.

But a recent decision to pave a section of the eight kilometre path between 16th and 25th Avenues has some gardeners digging in.

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At a press conference Tuesday morning Jerry Dobrovolny, the city’s manager of engineering said, “it’s really an amazing opportunity to build a real city, building, shaping type of facility, right from the Fraser River all the way to False Creek.”

But not all area residents agree. One gardener, David Frank Gomes, told Global News “if you want to call it a greenway then it should be a greenway. It really is nothing more than the city turning it into another street.”

But the city says the paved paths are only temporary and designed to help people with mobility issues get out and enjoy the space while a one-year consultation process gets underway for a more permanent plan for the Arbutus Corridor.

“Our goal was to get people into the corridor as quickly as possible so they can use the corridor — people of all ages and abilities,” Dobrovolny said.

“Some of the sections are quite walkable today, some of them are not at all. So our plan was to make the entire corridor accessible to all right away.”

The city and the railway have been in negotiations around the future of the rail line, which runs through some of the most valuable property in North America, for years.

READ MORE: City of Vancouver challenges CP Rail’s claim on Arbutus Corridor

Talks intensified when CP indicated it wanted to restore the line that had not been used since 2001.

In 2014, CP crews started clearing away community gardens in preparation for train traffic. In March 2016, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson made the announcement the city had bought the Arbutus Corridor for $55 million. At the time, Robertson estimated the cost to turn the rail right of way into a greenway to be between $25 to $30 million.

But some local gardeners are not only upset over the lack of consultation before the pavers arrived but also about the asphalt itself.

“It is not green, it’s actually toxic,” Adrian Levy said.

“If they are going to do what most pavers do, they’re going to spray a very toxic herbicide to keep the growth of plants coming up through the asphalt. So it’s not going to be green, it’s not going to be safe, it’s not going to be cost effective and it’s going to be toxic.

The city plans to begin a public visioning process this fall, which is expected to take about one year to complete.

~ with files from Julia Foy

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