City of Vancouver to Rescue Arbutus Corridor Fruit Trees-Vancouver Courier

Text from Vancouver Courier Article- Sept 16th, 2014:

The Vancouver park board plans to move trespassing mature fruit trees off of Arbutus Corridor now that talks have broken down between the Canadian Pacific and the City of Vancouver.

“The Park Board has consulted with staff arborists and has identified more than a hundred mature fruit trees along the Arbutus Corridor.  They are in varying states of health.  The trees will soon be removed to a temporary ‘nursery’ where they will live until their leaves fall off in November,” according to an emailed statement from the city’s media department attributed to director of parks Bill Harding. “Once the trees are dormant they can be safely transplanted to permanent homes. These homes have yet to be determined, but will likely be community gardens and parks throughout the City of Vancouver.”

Harding was not made available for a phone interview.

Late last week, Canadian Pacific announced it would resume work clearing Arbutus Corridor after negotiations fell through.

CP temporarily stopped removing trespassing garden plots and structures along its rail line “to discuss the future of the Arbutus Corridor.”

But Friday afternoon, CP said work to return the corridor to operating standards would recommence “in coming days.” An exact date was not specified.

CP released this statement: “CP and the City of Vancouver met [Sept. 12] to discuss the future of the Arbutus Corridor. Despite exploring a number of options to reach a fair market settlement, the parties were unable to arrive at an agreement.

“CP halted all work on the corridor when it agreed to meet the City of Vancouver to negotiate a resolution. However, after meeting today with senior City representatives, CP remains extremely disappointed that the City of Vancouver continues to significantly undervalue this corridor.”

A call to CP on Monday was not returned.

On Friday, the Office of the Mayor confirmed talks had broken off, while adding the city would continue to advocate citizens’ interests along the corridor and that it remains opposed to cargo trains being reactivated.

“It’s both frustrating and very disappointing that CP rail is unwilling to reach a fair agreement for the future of the Arbutus Corridor.

“The city has offered to purchase the land at a fair price, and we came to the table with innovative proposals that would address CP Rail’s concerns. We offered to bring in a third party facilitator to reach an agreement and we brought in experienced external professionals to assist with the discussions,” Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a press release.

“CP’s attempts to clear the corridor are nothing more than a negotiating tactic. The city will not react to this by spending millions of dollars based on flawed appraisals that do not reflect the permitted land use on the corridor. That would be irresponsible for taxpayers and we will not allow that.”

On Monday afternoon, Verena Foxx, chair of Pine Street Community Gardens, which cover two blocks between Fir and Burrard streets at West Sixth, said gardeners recently noticed trees had been “blue tagged,” by the park board although she hadn’t been told much about city plans.

“But it’s exciting because it seems like they want to save the trees, which is what we’re thinking, and re-locate them,” Foxx said. “But our members are curious where they are going to go and whether they will have a say in the matter because some people are attached to their trees. Everybody is glad they’re going to be saved if that’s the case but people are curious what the plan is.”

Pine Street gardens sit mostly on city land, but some have strayed on to CP land. Foxx said gardeners are permitted to use property up to 14 feet from the curb on city land, as long as they leave a few feet for public access along the curb. Each gardener pays $30 a year for plot use.

PSCG asked CP to put stakes in to mark the boundary between city and CP land.

The tracks along the route are covered in blackberry bushes, while the community gardens feature plants, as well as apple, cherry, plum, kiwi and fig trees — some of the trees are on city land and some are on CP land. Many gardeners have already moved their garden plots back on to the city licensed land.

Over the weekend, Foxx moved a fig tree onto the 14 feet of city-licensed land.

“I hope I didn’t kill it is all I can say,” she said. “It’s not a good time of year to move them. It’s better to move them later in the fall. So that is why we are very curious about it because the CP talks, as you know have broken down with the city, and they’ve said the will continue their work on their land so I’m curious what the proposal is, what the timeline is, when is the best time to move the trees — we’re waiting for some direction from the park board because I think they have more information than we do about that.”

Gardening groups along Arbutus Corridor have been communicating with one another as the story has developed. One of their key concerns now is if CP starts spraying their property to prevent regrowth of weeds. CP has stated it uses herbicides approved by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency and that the list of herbicides which may be used in B.C. is outlined in its approved Integrated Vegetation Management Plan.

But Foxx and other gardeners are still worried. She said it’s a “huge” concern if CP starts spraying the blackberry bushes and other vegetation growing on the tracks.

“Obviously if they start spraying it’s not going to be healthy for anyone who walks along here. And it will carry over into our gardens because we know it can be airborne. It’s a whole new set of conversations that need to be had at that point.”

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Where

The Pine Street Community Gardens, established in 2006, runs for two blocks along side the railroad tracks on West 6th Avenue between Fir and Burrard.

Garden Side + Orchard Side

The western block of the gardens, what we call the Orchard Side, is one of Vancouver’s only urban orchards, featuring apple, pear, plum and many other varieties of fruit trees. The east block, or Garden Side, of the gardens is home to over 40 vegetable and garden plots.

All photos and other content are copyright of the Pine Street Community Garden members © 2013