The development of this meandering park has an interesting history and impacted local politics at the time of the big debate surrounding its implementation.
In 1886 the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) was given 5300 acres in Vancouver by the Provincial Government in exchange for the development of the transcontinental railway stretching to Vancouver. By 1968, Marathon Realty, the development arm of the CPR, was poised to develop this swampy 40 acre site as one of Western Canada’s largest shopping centres. This plan for a $20 million centre was immediately opposed by a local group, the Arbutus-Quilchena Homeowners’ Association, which was specifically formed to fight Marathon’s plans. Lawyer Jack Volrich, later Vancouver’s Mayor, was the leading spokesperson for the group and attributed the controversy as the impetus for his political career.
The development controversy lasted for four years and resulted in a much scaled down shopping centre, mixed housing and the dedication by the developer of parkland at a cost of $100,000 which was turned over to the Park Board in 1977.