Tuesday, August 3, 2010

More on Bronson's fake trees

I had thought Ottawa was perhaps unique in wanting to install fake trees on concrete foundations along Bronson rather than plant real trees with real roots.

The City is reconstructing Bronson next year. In their rush to pave over every possible inch of Ottawa space for rush hour commuters to head over to the greener pastures of Pointe Gatineau or out to Greely, they discovered they had no room left over for pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, residents, adjacent businesses, kids heading to school or grandma heading to the lawn bowling club. No room for bus shelters, benches, or trees ... so the City proposes installing fake trees, as they don't require room for roots to grow, are immune to salt, etc. See the second illustration below for a sketch of the proposed artificial foliage, and don't forget those yellow and red cars are speeding along at 70 or 80, and the benches are on private property only if the owners cede the space to the city.

I had thought Ottawa was perhaps unique in wanting to install fake trees on concrete foundations rather than plant real trees with real roots. Alas, I was wrong. Regina is doing us much better. They are chopping down real trees to replace them with fake trees.

Victoria Park in downtown Regina is being refashioned. Supposedly, work crews digging to plant trees discovered lots of gas mains, wiring, etc in the area (who knew!?) and so the City is proposing "shade screens -- large metal frames of self-weathering steel that will rust to a durable orange-brown, linked with curving reflective strips of shiny aluminum" (National Post, pg A6,"Residents liken park design to Nazi camp").

The story goes on to describe residents as "disillusioned by the loss of trees and ... an emblem of tradition lost to modernism, and of nature lost to the city".

There are a couple of themes here worth pondering upon. One is the desire of City departments to get rid of real trees, with their inconvenient growth and variability and seasonal change. We have seen our cities steadily remove all large trees, and now apparently the small ones have gotta go too.

The other theme is the underground utilities. On Bronson, for example, we requested the City require new and reconstructed utilities be burried deep enough so trees could be planted. Oh, the looks of horror on their faces ... they had no intention ever of requesting let alone requiring utilities be located more than 36" deep. The role of landscaping was to fill in the left over spots, if there were any. That a street might have stakeholders or influence other than for utilities and commuters was unthinkable. Such unthinking gave us ugly Bronson in the 50's and such unthinking still prevails with (some) city staff and consultants today, over a half century later. Ugliness and disutility designed in from day one.

1 comment:

  1. What a joke! What happened to sustainable design and the preservation of green space!?
    - Ravi Shanghavi, Ottawa.