Expropriation Law Centre




Peterson Stark Scott


Photo gallery - Arbutus Corridor
Introduction: This is a collection of photos showing the Arbutus Corridor in Vancouver. The Arbutus Corridor is a strip of land located in the City of Vancouver that was owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway and used for active railroad operations until about 2000. After active operations ceased the CPR considered options for the development and/or sale of the land. However the City of Vancouver responded to those efforts by adopting a bylaw imposing significant restrictions on development of the Corridor lands. This led to commencement of legal action by the CPR against the City of Vancouver in which the CPR alleged that the City's actions had constructively expropriated the CPR's land. This action was finally decided in the City's favour by the Supreme Court of Canada in February 2006. Copies of the court decisions at each level are available to subscribers on the Online Subscription Service. The SCC decision is cited as: [2006] EXLAW 301.

In 2014, fourteen years after railroad operations ceased on the Arbutus Corridor, the CPR began efforts to restore the track to operating condition. This led to negotiations with the City that eventually led to a purchase of the land by the City. After the transaction completed the rails were removed and the Arbutus Corridor was converted to public recreational uses.
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia

March 2006

While the track and other railway equipment was still in place at the time these photos were taken in March 2006 the railway had not been in active use for about six years.

1 Looking south along the rail line from the 16th Avenue crossing. Here the rail line is sandwiched between two parallel streets, Arbutus Street on the right and East Boulevard on the left. Arbutus is a major north-south connector street with four driving lanes at this point. East Boulevard provides access to five consecutive city blocks where single family residential properties have been developed on the east side.
2 Looking north from the 17th Avenue pedestrian crossing. Arbutus Street is on the left and East Boulevard is on the right. Residential development is apparent to the right of East Boulevard.
3 Looking northwest from the 17th Avenue pedestrian crossing. A commercial development at the NW corner of Arbutus Street and 16th Avenue is visible at the left side of the photo.
4 Looking southeast along the tracks from the West King Edward Avenue crossing. The B.C. Hydro Sperling Substation is visible to the right of the tracks.
5 Looking northwest along the tracks near the B.C. Hydro Sperling Substation. The large building on the left side of the tracks is the electric substation. Maple Crescent is parallel to the rail corridor behind the large hedge on the right. The photo also shows several overhead electric transmission lines located within the railway right of way.

August 2014

During the eight year period following the 2006 court decision little if any maintenance work was performed on the Arbutus rail line and no rail operations took place. However, in 2014 the CPR gave notice of its intention to clear the right of way and restore the track to operating condition. At that time the railway's website identified a significant number of encroachments on the right of way placed there by other parties. Some news reports suggested this decision was primarily intended by the CPR to enhance its bargaining position with the City in relation to a possible sale of the land to the City or perhaps a relaxation of the land use restrictions. Clearing operations commenced in August 2014.

6 Looking north from the 17th Avenue pedestrian crossing. This photo is taken from the same location as one of the March 2006 photos above.
7 Looking northwest along the tracks near the B.C. Hydro Sperling Substation. This photo is taken from the same location as one of the March 2006 photos above.
8 Close up view of the track near the West 64th Avenue pedestrian crossing. This photo reveals deterioration in the ties and track. The spray painted white spots appear to identify parts that require repair or replacement.
9 Garden located on the railway right of way near West 68th Avenue.
10 Public notice stapled to a trellis located in a garden on the right of way near West 68th Avenue.
11 Public notice taped to a street sign adjacent to the East Boulevard Community Garden.
12 Railway ballast maintenance equipment is shown parked on the track a short distance north of the SW Marine Drive crossing. This equipment was used during clearing operations in August 2014.
13 Looking south from the SW Marine Drive crossing where clearing operations took place on August 15, 2014.
14 Looking north towards the SW Marine Drive crossing on August 15, 2014. The photo was taken in the early evening when numerous visitors were in attendance inspecting the recent changes.
15 Looking east near the southern limit of the Arbutus section of the railway. The Hudson Street crossing is visible and the junction with the active rail line that continues to New Westminster lies a short distance beyond. The north approach ramps for the Arthur Laing bridge are overhead.
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Page last updated: March 17, 2010