On opposite sides of the country are two of Canada’s iconic cities: Vancouver, British Columbia and Toronto, Ontario. In this age of green building practices and sustainable development, both cities are pushing forward to be leaders in environmentally conscious city planning and design. Toronto has adopted a green roof strategy and passed bylaws to require new developments to include green roofs. Vancouver has declared an intention to become the greenest city by 2020.
Both cities are making strides to expand the urban forest, though in very different ways.
The Vancouver Parks Board recently announced the planned addition of 150,000 trees to Vancouver’s streets and a public places. 3,000 trees will be planted this fall, while the remaining number will be planted before the 2020 greenest city goal. Adding these trees will not only greatly impact the look and feel of the urban landscape, but also the health and well-being of Vancouverites: “There are social and economic benefits – including cleaner air, habitat for wildlife, increased property values, and neighbourhood pride, to name a few.”
In Toronto, streetscapes are being improved at a grassroots level. Intended to raise awareness about the lack of greenery in certain areas of Toronto, My Street Has No Trees saw participants install miniature planters on top of bike stands. While the environmental impact of these guerrilla gardens is small, the social impact could potentially build to a point where a change in street and sidewalk design is not only demanded but also put into practice.
Neither project is better or more relevant than the other, despite the variance in scale and impact. Rather, each shows a changing attitude toward the urban landscape in two of Canada’s leading cities.
Do you know of any other examples of guerrilla gardening or grassroots movements to change urban environments? Does your city take care of its urban forest?
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.