The City of Vancouver is trying another tactic in its battle with Canadian Pacific over the railway company's plan to start running trains again along the Arbutus Corridor.
The city is asking the Canadian Transportation Agency to order CP to halt its plans because CP breached the Canadian Transportation Act when it abandoned rail operations in 2001 and didn't offer to sell the land back to the government at net salvage value.
The city also wants the federal agency to force the company to sell the rail line back to the city at the 2004 salvage value.
"The factual context strongly suggests that CP's stated intention to resume rail operations on the corridor is simply a negotiating tactic aimed at pressing the city to purchase the lands," said the application filed by the city on Friday.
"Our whole point is that the legislation is very very clear. It has been amended a couple of times over the last years and reflects a public purpose that rail corridors, if they are not being used for rail activity, they should be discontinued and offered back to government," said city manager Penny Ballem on Wednesday.
"After all these years, starting to run trains along it again for an unclear purpose — it is not a commercial purpose and it's not a business purpose."
Community gardens removed
It's been almost a year since CP tore through community gardens to get the 11-kilometer railway ready for operation.
The railway company was looking to either develop the land as a commercial-residential property or sell it to the city for its development value.
But the city zoned the land as a green space and transportation corridor in 2000 and has refused to pay CP's asking price for the land.
CP fought the zoning in court and lost. As a result of the standoff, CP got approval from Transport Canada to run trains again and began tearing out community gardens along the railway corridor last year.
Ballem says the city is also still concerned about safety if CP follows through on its plans to use the railway line to park railway cars.
CP says it's working with Transport Canada to ensure operations resume safely.
There is no timeline for when the agency will review the application.