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Vancouver offers to buy Granville Island, Arbutus corridor — but the sale price unknown

July 24th, 2014 · 81 Comments

Continuing to catch up on posts here. (Sorry, as many of you know, I was camped out at the Vancouver Folk Festival all weekend, though without a “structure,” so no park rangers came to chase me out. As a result, I fell behind in alerting you to all of my brilliant recent pieces of journalistic prose.)

I filed this one on Sunday from the festival, re Mayor Gregor Robertson’s initiatives to guarantee some local control for Granville Island, either by having the city buy or lease the island, and to preserve the Arbutus rail corridor as it is now.

We, the taxpayers aka residents, don’t know what the price tags on these would be exactly. My guess is that the city would only be interested in Granville Island if the federal government transferred it for a nominal fee, since it probably takes some federal money now to subsidize rents and maintain the place. That’s currently paid for by everyone in Canada. If the city had control, guess who would be covering those costs?

As well, with the Arbutus corridor, the city’s “fair-market assessment” probably is based on it being zoned as a transportation corridor, which would make it a lot less valuable than if it were zoned for condos.

Richmond recently got a big chunk of old CP rail line for its 3.7-kilometre greenway for, apparently, $5 million in 2010. So that would indicate the price for Vancouver for 11 kilometres might be around, say, $20-30 million. On the other hand, Mayor Philip Owen and the city paid CP $9 million for a 1.5-kilometre section near Granville Island back in 1996. Based on that price of $6 million per kilometre and using the old Bank of Canada inflation calculator, the current price for 11 kilometres would be $93 million.

All of this, of course, is just fun imaginary math, as CMHC, the current managing body for Granville Island, says it’s not even clear in legislation whether the government has the power to sell this piece of Crown land. And, given the current state of animosity between CP and the city, hard to see an amicable and reasonably priced sale any time soon.





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