Monday, April 16, 2012

Goodbye Old Friend, Rest In Peace -- as a pile of logs

It was three years ago that word first went out that the unique Garry oak at the back of the garden at 1972 Fairfield Road was under threat, due to subdivision and building on the property. Now, three years later, the oak is gone. Artists painted and photographed and came to love the tree. It swirled its limbs into the air, ballet style, it dipped others down to greet us, it grew around an astonishing hole in one of its thick branches. It inspired a show of glass sculpture at Winchester Gallery by Waine Ryzak, and a well-known watercolour by Avis Rasmussen. It was much visited, as above, and dressed with symbolic objects in a futile hope that magic would help. Evenings of readings about preserving the oak were held at Serious Coffee outlets, petitions were signed. Local politicians ignored it all. The top photo merely hints at the glorious shape and character the oak had; the bottom photo shows what is left of it now.

How can a city allow this to happen? We have a "heritage tree bylaw" -- but what good is it? Even the most exquisite examples of heritage trees are sacrificed to "development". Three years ago the garden at 1972 was abloom with wildflowers. Deer drank in the pond. Now it is chock-full of extraordinarily ugly, boxy, brutal-looking oversized houses. No meadow, pond, trees or songbirds left, no camas, or rhodos ablaze along the driveway. Who decided that this is the kind of town we want? That this is the kind of urban (non)planning we want?

Who benefits? Not the taxpayer, not the City, and certainly not the natural landscape; just a handful of developers. Just today, one city councillor spoke on the CBC about the City being broke, having to raise taxes, raise parking fees, lower services ... That's where uncontrolled development has got us: higher taxes, yet less revenue.


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