How Vancouver could have avoided the CP debacle: Kirk LaPointe

Below, NPA mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe weighs in on how negotiations should have gone

CP Rail is tearing up gardens along the Arbutus corridor, but it’s the mayor and the City of Vancouver that have made the mess.
We need a better process to resolve this complex issue. We need leadership from 12th and Cambie. But the Mayor is MIA, decrying CP Rail in a press release as a bully, hiding behind his councillors instead of talking to Vancouverites and souring what little is left of negotiations.
It was naïve that the mayor and the city thought CP Rail would accept one-fifth its asking price or negotiate without understanding the eventual plan for the land. Transparency would be good. No residential or commercial development on this land tract ever? Well, Mr. Mayor, say so clearly.
It was a mistake to bluff CP Rail and disrespectful to residents to be cavalier and run the risk that CP was going to do what it had said it was going to do.
I am having trouble finding any halos in this picture. CP Rail knew that clearing the tracks in the middle of gardening season (and the start of an election campaign) would hit where it hurts. As for those who cultivated the gardens, their work added to the vibrancy of the community, but it is still CP’s land. The principle of private property is central to this issue.
In the end, this is business: hardball meeting lowball. The mayor and the city ought to have been wise enough to know that when you are five times apart on price, there will be consequences.
Here is how we should rewind the tape:
1. Consult the community for a change. Take 100 days to develop a reasonably precise plan for how the land would be used in the future. As a condition of negotiation, get CP Rail to leave the tracks alone in the meantime.

2. Get an independent assessment of the land value based on the plan.

3. Pay fairly from that assessment, either in cash, tax benefits or land. Commit to a long-term land use policy to back up your intentions and to penalties if you digress.
Consultation, a clear plan, a fair price and transparency along the way would serve everyone’s interests far better than what is going on now: secrecy, an unclear plan, a price the vendor won’t accept, a lack of openness, and gardens being ploughed apart.


Kirk LaPointe is the Non-Partisan Association’s candidate for mayor of Vancouver in the November 15 civic election.