The City will be removing 6 of the 8 mature trees in Gastown today, on the 200 block between Water and Cordova.
I was informed of this by email at around 3pm yesterday by Tanis Knowles (Planner, Downtown Eastside Neighbourhoods Group Central Area Planning for City of Vancouver)
The charm of the street is the mature urban trees.
The Carrall Street Greenway has opened this up and they intend to remove the trees “nearing the end of their lifespan” in favour of a new wider root area for new saplings. (I am not sure of the size of the new trees but they won’t have the height and character of the old Gastown trees.)
If you didn’t receive the city email – sent just after 3pm yesterday, it is copied below, along with my midnight letter to the Greenway planners.
Is there anything that can be done? it looks like the greenway will be nothing but fancy paving and a few small trees.
I am very concerned and alarmed.
All restoration and building on this block has been done while preserving the trees that are there.
By the way, the city promise of more trees was always part of the Greenway plan, nothing new here.
My email to Tanis:
I have lived in Van Horne Building (2nd floor in the small building on the corner of Carrall and Cordova) for 12 years now, and was on the Greenway Planning Committee for several years.
I am very unhappy to hear that most of the mature Greenway trees will be removed. And suddenly. Tomorrow. It is a pity that the mature trees won’t be able to help make the greenway green.
What size will the new 200 block trees be? How long will it take them to grow to have a green presence on the street, and how can these new trees be augmented by other green plantings – so the greenway isn’t just fancy paving.
Already we have compromised on the original concept of having sidewalk cafes integrating the area and making use of the narrowed traffic lanes. Once the bike lanes were placed on both sides of the street that amenity was lost. It has become a “Throughway” plan, rather than a varied and integrated urban streetscape.
Now with the trees being taken down, this is a serious problem. For those of us who have a living stake in this area, it is important that what we do have here isn’t taken away in favor of a streamlined plan.
I am very concerned about the Hastings-Cordova block, which is where I live. It is very important that everything possible is done to preserve the mature trees on this block, which are the only amenity you find here. With those trees gone the block will be a wasteland. Outside our window, instead of seeing the seasonal changes of the trees and their leaves, we will see the rundown buildings across the street, and perhaps a bit of a treetop or two.
Yes the trees that are there are old trees, but surely there is a way to preserve them for several more years to come. I understand that the city planning has to project into the future. When we planned the greenway initially it was not to remove the trees that are already present, but to add to them.
Those of us who live here love the trees that have survived through so much hardship. This area desperately needs as much green growth as possible, please don’t remove the few trees we have NOW in favor of trees that will grow to become lush LATER.
On 3-Feb-09, at 3:07 PM, Tanis Knowles wrote:
Hello, You are receiving this email as a past participant in public consultation regarding the Carrall Street Greenway or as a member of the Carrall Street Greenway Stewardship Group. This email provides an update on a recent development related to the required removal and replacement of some of the existing trees on the 200-block (between Cordova St and Water St), as part of the Greenway construction. Our hope was that all existing trees could be retained on this block, however it has recently been determined that six of the eight existing trees need to be removed and replaced. Detailed assessment was undertaken by the City’s arborist and landscape designers, who concluded that the trees in question are nearing the end of their lifespan and will be further compromised by the planned construction work. By replacing the trees now, improved tree pits can be constructed that will ensure replacement trees have the most adequate environment to grow and mature. If the trees were not removed, the arborist predicts that they will require replacement in the near future, however replacement trees would not benefit from improved tree pits, which are only possible if constructed now as part of the full block reconstruction. In order to keep to the Greenway construction schedule for the 200-block (target completion by end of April 2009), removal of the six trees is planned for tomorrow, Wednesday, February 4th. Four of the trees identified for removal and replacement are on the east side of the street and two are on the west side. Once construction of the Greenway on this block is complete, there will be a net gain of six new trees for a total of fourteen trees on this block compared to the existing eight trees. If you have any questions about this or anything else related to the Greenway, please contact the construction Project Manager, Linda Chow, or myself.
Angelic transformation. Snow on all black branches piled high. Slowly steadily tiny flakes fall in a continuous mist-like freefall. No cars on the road at 8:15. Morning blanketed quiet – streetlights show the falling snow.
No vision in the distance – cloud is touching the tops of the buildings. This is winter. Christmas eve.
Morning tea – orange dulce.
A snow shovel scrapes the sidewalk below. The little white walking man sign is like a snowman. The red don’t walk hand is like a fire. Once in a while a black bird flies through the snow, a bus goes by or stops, a person calls out to another. I hear my ears ringing in this exquisite quiet.
The street lights just went off. It is officially morning in the city now. A branch too heavy with snow bends just a little to spill large accumulations onto the street.
Inside the fire in the gas fireplace burns fuel from ancient lifetimes. The turtle climbs to his platform to bask in artificial light. Plants and stairways are decorated with tiny xmas lights. A candle that was burning on my table has secretly burned out when I wasn’t looking. I pour a bit of milk into my second cup of tea.
In front of me – white at the window.
Behind me – white at the window.
Even downtown in the built-up human-created world Nature now dominates. She whispers,”I am earth, I am your mother. I love and respect you. See now my power over you and your fancies.”
A white seagull swoops through the snow in an arc. Another large lump of snow falls off a heavy branch. A truck, a car, an amber light, red light, green light, snow man, fire hand.
I am enfolded in this enormous being.
A crow flies left to right then returns again. A gull lands on the top of the street light. Great sheets of snow fall from two branches at once, and I hear distant voices.
This morning is more quiet than any dream.
All the birds have awakened from somewhere, fly back and forth, stay perched on snow-covered wires above the trolley lines. A small black flock flies by, I see them through the upper window. Are they all looking for food, or just enjoying the human quiet, the lack of machine noise?
I sit closer to the window, and look down onto the street below. 8 people are standing under the awning across the street, holding coffee cups, shuffling from foot to foot to keep warm. The lights are on at the methadone clinic behind them. A police car stops at the light. Someone in the clinic has a santa hat on. Some of the folks have crossed the street and gone home -wherever home is and I do hope it is a home.
The big red and white Eagle West condo-building crane has become visible. The clouds must have lifted. More cars on the road, more people walking from place to place. The gull on the street light. The crow on the wire. The snow. The endless blessings quietly patiently and continuously drift down now from above. A woman does up the jacket of her friend in front of the clinic. I sit closer to the window, stop writing, and gaze at the snow.
This post is a duplicate of a page in my Carrall Street Journal.
I started a blog named The Carrall Street Journal in March 2006, and it has been an on and off activity for me. My original ideas for it are listed below. They were a little bit out of scope, and I began to see it simply as a vehicle for my own personal expression of life here in Gastown/DTES. As it was a very personal hyper-local blog, a place-based personal log of my observations, I’ve just now integrated all the posts from the old Carrall Street Journal here into my personal blog.
• The Carrall Street Journal documents people, events, development and transitions along Carrall Street.
• The Journal offers reflections on the physical and social developments as the greenway plans take hold and become a reality, and is open to any comments and community suggestions.
• Descriptions and profiles feature people, businesses, events and associations located on and near the street.
• The journal is volunteer-based and is an independent voice, with no particular affiliation.
• It doesn’t take any advertising, and isn’t commercial.
• Any member of the community can contribute to the discussion, as long as you have an email address to send from and to be contacted at.
After a too long hiatus, I’ve gone back to the Carrall Street Journal. Client work and a general disillusionment with the entire public process conspired and I left that blog to lie fallow. It was still getting hits, and now, after my recent meeting at the Gastown Heritage Area Planning Committee (the unpronounceable GHAPC), I was moved to go back into the old blog. Frustration at the length of time it takes for anything to be accomplished on the civic level combined with a simple urge to blog about the street again, and I got my groove back.
I’ve got new ideas for the Journal and have scaled down my expectations, so will be posting there a little more often than once in 6 months!
Over the years the events that seemed so significant have faded into the past, and ideas I had for the street and contact through it still haven’t come to fruition.
Talk about big ideas!
Originally I had wanted to walk the street as Joyce walked Dublin, and using the names and references seen on the street, through the history, from the stores and shops along the way, to create a poetic integrated image/bank. Oh I envisioned projections on the 4 corners of each intersection, digital audio tours that were poetic and resonant with the past, present and future. I imagined Carrall Street as the microcosm of a whole new world, including East, West, Chinese, Aboriginal roots, Colonial overlords, high-tech infrastructure, homelessness, high-end glamour, art galleries, corner stores, contrasts between more expensive restaurants like Chill Winston with Wing’s Cafe, tucked in between the Gospel mission and the alley by Pigeon Park. A symphony of a city, as the early filmmakers created them. I didn’t pursue funding for this, and it remained simply an incubated idea, which others will surely find and follow.
UPDATE NOV. 2008: I’ve just decided to integrate the Carrall Street Journal posts here in my personal blog, and all the posts can now be found here.
All right, I’m Back
Every year or so I come back to this blog about Carrall Street and report on the same old things. It wasn’t inspiring me, so I put my energies elsewhere. Still living here, still involved but it was so much the same old same old, I had no reason to tell the story again and again.
I’ve been somewhat reinvigorated in the past week or so and instead of making excuses, I’ll just continue on with this blog, adding my view of the place into the mix.
Smell of Urine Overpowering
Big news is the very strong smell of urine, worst ever in all the years I’ve been here.
One day this August the smell was so strong and pervasive it came right into my home through the window. This is the first time this has happened. I’d noticed it all along Carrall Street when walking through Gastown, particularly at intersections. I was alarmed, thought there was some kind of chemical spill, and called the Health Department. Then when it was also in my home, I was really concerned. Imagine my dismay when the woman from the City Health Dept. who came out to check it told me it was strong urine. “It will rain soon” she said.
Well rain won’t do it, folks. It smells like a stable in the laneways, like an 18th century London street, like some kind of zoo. This is unhealthy and extremely unpleasant. We need more cleaning from City Engineering down here. When the needle exchange was on Hastings, they used to pressure wash the lane between Hastings and Cordova, and that did make a big difference. Remember, there are people in those laneways, lots of them. Some are sleeping there. This is not the way a normal city cares for its people or for the city itself.
And today, yes, it was as strong as ever. You can only burn so much incense!
These ideas for articles have been swimming in my mind but haven’t yet made it to the posting stage. I’ve been too busy to give them the attention they deserve, so to take some of the pressure off, I’m listing them here – not necessarily in order of importance.
1. “4 Hour New Earth” – Book Mashup. My impressions after reading Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Work Week while alternating with Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth. Finished both around the same time. Both go for freedom, require work to make happen, are self-help with huge wide-reaching goals, are utopian, catch you where you are yearning, etc. And both can work for you if you do what they say!
2. The Gastown Diet – Eating locally is now considered a common good. As a satirical article I’d like to survey the local corner stores on Carrall Street and come up with a week’s menu based only on foods purchased there. As a follow-up, I could cover the 2 block area around my place.
3. My Movie Wrapup – I’ve seen some really great movies lately and would love to list them with comments – Away from Her, Talk to Me, Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Darjeeling Express, Into the Wild, Juno. No time to reflect, though. It’s amazing I had time to watch these – but then in a winter evening there’s nothing better than settling in.
4. The Novel as Time-Shifter – I finally get it: a novel shifts time. Instead of living a day to day life, reading a novel allows you to step outside of time to take a wide view of time itself, and in the course of reading it you can see a life in total, or the history of a family through generations, or overview major world events seen through the eyes of individuals, or reflect through their inner dialogue – all in a condensed version of time. Whatever other qualities the novel brings, it is this time-shifting telescoping view that I find fascinating. I took it for granted until just a few days ago.
5. The Only Way to Live in a City – Live in the city as if you were living in a village. Walk wherever you can. Thinking I’d be late for my Y class, I decided to take the car. Ended up going in circles through 1 way streets in traffic. It took me longer to get to the Y than it would have if I’d been walking! Not to mention the parkade and parking cost. “I have to blog about this,” I thought. Dump the car except when absolutely necessary. Cut around town on foot, turn your part of the city into your village. It’s the best way to survive.
So those are my top 5 unwritten blog posts. Fill in the blanks with your own ideas, imagine these as fully articulated.
(Link here for a random post from my blog.)
This post is a duplicate of a post in my Carrall Street Journal.
Carrall Street has been kept relatively clean by volunteers, the United We Can folks, and as a result the whole place doesn’t look too bad, or seem too terribly unhealthy, despite the city strike.
However, the Carrall Street Greenway has been very affected by the strike, and no work has been done on the whole thing for much of the summer. Tall grass and weeds are growing in the square areas that had been left for tree planting on the one area that had been constructed so far. The whole schedule for this improvement has been suspended, and this could have serious repercussions in the timeline. Hopefully there will be a resolution to the strike soon.
Meanwhile, September brings new exhibitions in the galleries, ACCESS, ArtSpeak, InterUrban and Centre A.
The New York Times Style Magazine this Sunday featured the designer at Richard Kidd, and positive mention of Carrall Street’s Irish Heather and Hunt and Gather.
Now equinox is past, we will see earlier nights, and that also means colder nights for the homeless. People are seriously nested in under the awning on Cordova Street just west of the old Pig and Whistle, and also in any nook to be found in doorways of the old Ranier Hotel. That place has been increasingly covered in graffiti through the summer, with more coming along through the month of August and early September. Almost every brick in the doorway to the former chicken place has a tag of some kind.
That’s the September wrap-up for this street of high contrast!
This post is a duplicate of a post in my Carrall Street Journal.
This Telus box near the bus stop on Carrall and Cordova has been a real eyesore and a problem in the area, as in the past it was a place where dealers and users would congregate. All kinds of things went on between that box and the building behind it. The people at the new Irezumi Tattoo shop had the idea to make this box less of a graffiti-covered eyesore, and arranged with Telus permission to cover the box with a graphic of their own design. It’s totally in keeping with the feel of the street so how could it invite graffiti? Fantastic! Kudos to Irezumi Tattoo!
This post is a duplicate of a post in my Carrall Street Journal.
August weekends featured festivals and events on Carrall Street.
In early August the canopies covered the intersection of Carrall and Hastings for the Insite event at Pigeon Park, with bands headlined by the venerable DOA.
Then the next weekend was the Chinatown festival, and people were walking along carrying their clay pots on cardboard squares, or lining up to go to the gambling booths and kiosks. Spilling over from the regular Night Market set up, people walked through Sun Yat Sen Park and out the alley by the Garden entrance, into Carrall.
Then this past weekend in Gastown saw the Motorcycle Show and Shine. Weather cooperated as again the street was filled with parked motorcycles all on display.
And coming up we will see the annual Gastown Concours D’elegance, Saturday September 1st.
Motorcycles lined up on display along Carrall