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The Arbutus Corridor Official Development Plan

The City of Vancouver first designated the Arbutus Corridor as a transportation Corridor in 1985 and reiterated that position on additional occasions in the 1990's.

In July of 2000, recognizing that CPR was preparing to abandon the use of the line for rail operations, and, as stated in the court decision, that the corridor, "was potentially an asset of unique importance for the public purposes of providing transportation," Vancouver City Council adopted by-law 8249, the Arbutus Corridor Official Development Plan. The ODP includes provisions for developing the Arbutus Corridor as a multi-use transportation/greenway corridor and detailed maps of the corridor.

You can view the 28 page Arbutus Corridor Official Development Plan here.

The Supreme Court of Canada Battle

When Vancouver City Council enacted the AC ODP, the railway was still active. In the following year, Canadian Pacific Railway decided to abandon its freight operations, deeming them uneconomic. It then complained that the ODP designation of its lands constituted an unfair 'down-zoning.'

In April of 2004, Madam Justice Southin dealt with the question directly, in a BC Court of Appeals decision, pointing out that the City of Vancouver was well within its rights to pass the ODP and that, having done so, was obliged to refuse application to change zoning where those changes were not in keeping with the ODP. In making this ruling, the Court relied on the precedent-setting case of MacMillan Bloedel v. Galiano Island Trust Committee, in which a very similar issue had arisen regarding the forest company's alleged right to develop forest lands for residential use. In this and in the earlier case, the rights of a local government to use planning and zoning powers for the greater public good was confirmed.

You can read the entire BC Court of Appeals ruling here.

There is a brief but excellent history of the Arbutus Corridor as a transportation right-of-way at the beginning of the ruling in the section titled: Background.
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