Vancouver on track for Arbutus Greenway linear park

The Arbutus Greenway is set to be completed by the end of 2018

Vancouver is following the lead of other world cities by repurposing a disused rail line to create a new walking and cycling route. Providing a continuous route for pedestrians and cyclists from Milton Street to 1st Avenue, the Arbutus Greenway project will give the city an extra 42 ac (17 ha) of public space.

Vancouver's mayor Gregor Robertson describes the project as "a once-in-a-generation opportunity, not unlike New York's High Line and other international examples." Among the cities that have followed New York's lead with projects to create new public spaces on sites of old rail infrastructure are Sydney, Philadelphia, Singapore and, indeed, New York itself. While not as long as Singapore's planned 24-km (14.9-mi) Lines of Life project, the Arbutus Greenway will still be one of the longer such schemes, at 9 km (5.6 mi).

The Arbutus Corridor was purchased by the City of Vancouver from Canadian Pacific Railway Limited (CP) at a cost of CA$55 million (US$41.5 million). Negotiations are said to have run from 2011 to 2014, before breaking down and then resuming again in 2015. A final agreement was signed in January of this year.

"The City's historic purchase of the Arbutus railway is great news for Vancouver," says mayor Gregor Robertson. "Thanks to this landmark agreement, the City will be able to transform the area into an outstanding greenway and connect neighbourhoods from False Creek to Marpole."

CP is expected to begin removing rails and ties (or sleepers) later this year, with construction of the greenway to start as as soon as the process is complete. Space will be retained for a future light rail or streetcar service.

The first sections of the greenway are due to be opened by the end of 2017, with the remainder expected to be complete by the end of 2018.

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