VANCOUVER (January 26, 2000) - Fully 73 per cent of Lower Mainland residents say the CPR's Arbutus
Rail Corridor should be preserved as a north-south transportation corridor
linking downtown Vancouver with Richmond and the airport. And an overwhelming
79 percent say the City of Vancouver or the Greater Vancouver Transportation
Authority should assume control of the Corridor rather than let the CPR build
condos along the 10-km long line that runs from False Creek to Marpole.
The findings are part of a poll conducted by Viewpoints Research Ltd. on behalf of the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC). Regional differences were apparent. Eighty five percent of Richmond and Delta residents favour keeping the Corridor for transportation, as compared to 76 percent in Vancouver, 80 percent in the North Shore, and 81 per cent in Surrey -White Rock. A total of 422 Lower Mainland residents were interviewed between Jan. 20 and 24. The margin of error for the sample is ±4.7 per cent 19 times out of 20.
"It's very clear that the citizens of Vancouver and this region strongly support keeping the Arbutus Corridor for a transportation route to Richmond," said SPEC president David Cadman. "The question now is whether Mayor Owen and Vancouver Council will act on behalf of the vast majority of citizens. They will have the opportunity at this Tuesday's meeting of City Council when they debate a motion to preserve the Arbutus Corridor for transportation."
The motion is the latest move in a squabble over the future of the West Side rail line that began in November when the CPR said it will abandon rail operations and build a commercial residential development along the 45 acre site. Although the railway pays taxes on an assessed value of only $409,000, Regional Manager Andrew Massill now values the land at $100 million. But federal railway legislation requires the CPR to first offer the line to existing chartered railways. The City of Vancouver's Downtown Historic Railway, which operates trolleys along a 2-km track on the south side of False Creek, is a chartered railway.
"Mushrooming traffic congestion is recognized as the region's most serious environmental problem," said Cadman. "As the only assembled north-south transportation route in the city, the Arbutus Corridor has an obvious role to play in alleviating that congestion. Losing it would be a major blunder."