Arbutus Corridor Souvenirs

Arbutus1As the debate about the city’s possible purchase of the Arbutus corridor is ongoing, I realized there might be little time left to walk or bike along the trail, a trip that was on my Vancouver ‘to do’ list for a few years.

Though we still haven’t managed the bike trip, my family and I went for a nice walk along three routes of the corridor a few weeks ago. Some parts of the walk are probably less familiar to the general audience than the popular route along 6th Avenue between Fir and Maple streets. In the following photo essay, you’ll find some impressions of the trip. Please note the trip was taken spontaneously and most photos taken by my iPhone.

For those of you outside of Vancouver: The Arbutus Corridor is an 11km long rail line that runs from False Creek to the Fraser River in Vancouver, and then continues to White Rock. It belongs to Canadian Pacific [Railways] (CP), who haven’t used the line for more than a decade. Meanwhile, a plethora of beautiful vegetable and flower gardens have been developed along parts of the route, making it an attractive greenway throughout the southern, mostly residential part of the city of Vancouver. Earlier this year, CP assessed the tracks and decided they would move ahead with upgrading the rail line for possible future use (incl. cargo and/or training routes).

CP  sent a message to the owners of the vegetable gardens issuing eviction notices: “We have identified many unauthorized encroachments along the Arbutus corridor that lie within CP property. We ask those with any personal items, such as sheds or other structures, vehicles, storage containers and/or gardens, to please remove anything within the margins of CP land no later than July 31, 2014. After July 31, any unauthorized property remaining within the boundaries of our right-of-way will be removed as warranted by our track maintenance work.”

Meanwhile, the public outcry has been substantial, prompting the city of Vancouver to place an offer on purchasing the corridor. As Frances Bula wrote in the Globe and Mail of July 28, sources say that CP is asking for $100-million, while Vancouver is offering $20-million.

Even though the rail company announced not to start with the dismantling of the gardens right away, here are some photographic souvenirs of what once was (still is) Vancouver’s beautiful Arbutus corridor.

by Katja De Bock


Our route starts in Marpole, where West 70th Avenue meets SW Marine Drive. This is a somewhat hidden part of the route and offers some spectacular plane-spotting possibilities:



We discovered an interesting co-op community bordering the tracks; Arbutus Victory Gardens, reminding me of a white, silent monastery in the midst of busy Marpole life. The gardeners will host a party on Thursday, July 31st, at 5 PM, at Cleta’s garden, halfway between 51st and 57th avenues.


Artists’ work at Arbutus Victory Gardens.


Arbutus Victory Gardens


A few metres further along the track, the route encounters a small park and the Marpole Historical Society.


We were astonished to find this overgrown part of the tracks with fantastic lookout views over the city and million-dollar-homes between West 35th Ave. and Quilchena Cr. in Kerrisdale.



Though the hills are quite steep in this part of Kerrisdale, the train tracks are only gently sloped, making jogging and/or cycling remarkably doable.

Arbutus11At 6th Avenue and Maple Street in Kitsilano, the view probably gets more familiar for most of you, as the media have most often reported about this last part of the route near Granville St.


I have to say we found the prettiest flower gardens in this area! It would be utterly sad to see them go.


Flowers defying the ‘no trespassing’ signs.


Posters announce a gardening party and a petition.


The community garden at 6th Ave. and Cypress Street was awarded Most Beautiful Community Garden by the City of Vancouver and the Parks Board in 1999.


Urban jungle.


Goodbye, butterfly bush!



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