Fernwood space: open for business ... or for nature?
To the grief of many, Vic High removed a row of mature trees leading up its unkempt east driveway. Now as part of its construction project, it has removed an old building over on the southwest side, freeing up some land for other purposes. But what purposes?
A recent article in Fernwood's Village Vibe recommends dense development of the space, calling it "vacant," "surplus," and "bare." In fact, however, no building-free land is vacant, surplus or bare; it is immediately colonized by small plants, insects, healthy soil-building micro-organisms ... in other words by the processes of life, something which is lost when land is paved. Fernwood is dense with big old houses side by side on small lots; it is not well endowed with spacious gardens or public parks. Here is an opportunity for the City of Victoria to increase green space inventory. We have to remember that green space is never "empty." Planted with trees, paths, meadow, benches and picnic areas (rather as Holly Green was in Oaklands) it could be helping to mitigate air pollution and climate change. Only trees can do that; buildings cannot. Population in Greater Victoria has grown in recent years but local municipalities have failed to add parkland, just when it is most needed. The present and upcoming generation of kids need places to play outdoors, places close to home, within their own neighbourhoods, for healthy movement and escape from "nature deficit disorder."
With the downtown density to the north, that neighbourhood needs the relief of another bit of green space to join up with other pockets along Chambers. Stevenson Park, behind the Fernwood Community Centre, is very drab and it too could be immensely enhanced with a program of tree-densification to go along with having the original "well" or spring tapped with so much ceremony a few years ago.