How many more opportunities are we going to miss before we start taking these essential quality of life issues seriously?
By Jason Leach
Published October 19, 2016
I thought you'd all enjoy this photo I snapped of an autumn John Street looking south toward the escarpment:
Pretty phenomenal, right?
It's actually Montreal.
Our escarpment isn't quite as tall as Mount Royal, but you have to admit we have a lot of similarities to Montreal in other respects. If only we could tie it all together with more infill development, trees, patios, green bumpouts and bike lanes.
Sadly, in Hamilton we butcher urban street trees with metal grates, and we leave blank sidewalk around their trunks instead of adding grasses or plants.
Here's a shot of John looking south from Augusta:
John Street looking south
I'm not sure why Hamilton is so against developing a great urban tree canopy. Look at the new residential projects that have recently been built downtown: Wilson and Cathcart, Young and Catharine, Catharine and Augusta, Walnut and Augusta - no trees on any of these properties.
Townhouses at Young and Walnut (Image Credit: Ryan McGreal)
The new apartment building on the south side of Main at Caroline actually has a blank ten-foot ribbon of asphalt in front of the building!
These developers should be mandated to plant trees. For that matter, the City should require itself to plant trees. The recent Concession rebuild shows how far behind we are. It should have included large trees planted at regular intervals.
Concession Street reconstructed (RTH file photo)
Here are a few examples of other cities that take their urban tree canopies seriously:
Paris (RTH file photo)
Stockholm (Image Credit: Walking Stockholm)
Portland (Image Credit: American Society of Landscape Architects)
Portland is an excellent case study in what happens when a city prioritizes its urban canopy over a period of many years:
Street trees in Portland (Image Credit: Bike Portland)
Hamilton really needs to get acting on its stated goals regarding health, green city life, vibrant streets and so on. How many more opportunities are we going to miss before we start taking these essential quality of life issues seriously?
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