NEWS

Terry LeBlanc vows to protect dead friend's garden on Arbutus rail corridor

03/02/2015 11:05 EST | Updated 05/02/2015 05:59 EDT
With the City of Vancouver and CP Rail remaining at loggerheads over the future of the Arbutus rail corridor, some community gardeners have taken matters into their own hands.

Terry LeBlanc sat in his wheelchair in his friend's garden plot on Monday, vowing to protect it from the work crews who are clearing the space.

"It's a place where we remember Tom and they're going to destroy it, so I'm going to protect it," LeBlanc said. 

He said the garden was a healing space for him and his friend, Tom Holton, who died two years ago. Both men used wheelchairs — LeBlanc became a quadriplegic after a spinal cord injury seven years ago. 

"CP rail has 25 million acres of land," LeBlanc said. "You would think they could leave us a few feet of garden space."

However, the garden space is worth more than $400 million dollars, according to CP. Its future has been the focus of wheeling, dealing and court fights between the railway and the City of Vancouver for almost a decade.

CP announced in May 2014 that it planned to reactivate the track along the Arbutus corridor after more than a decade.​

Attempts to swap the land for undeveloped city land have failed, and now the community gardens that lie in the path are being removed. 

CP not clearing all the land

CP is helping gardeners move plants and benches to the side, saving signs and going around trees that have been tagged for transplanting in city parks.

One of the community gardeners, Kate Goule, said she was moving plants into the part of the garden that will not be cleared, which she said is "basically less than half of what we originally had."

And, for today at least, work crews also went around LeBlanc and Holton's memorial planter, although CP did say it reserves the right to clear it in the future. 

LeBlanc said he would be back everyday to protect his friend's plot. 

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