Dealing with the City, or property owners, can be tiresome. Sometimes there seems to be so little progress. Or progress gets undone by strange decisions, like the City’s push to rezone most of the low rise residential areas south of the Queensway on both sides of Preston, to high rise, now that the neighborhood has been stabilized…
But there are victories. Little bits of progress that make one come back and try again.
Do you recognize this?
Its on Somerset Street, opposite the Plant Rec Centre. It’s the back wall of Luciano’s and May’s Chinese Garden restaurant, beside their parking lot.
Prior to street reconstruction, it was just another bit of forlorn asphalt. Tucked behind and under a large billboard (note the rusty-red steel legs on the top left) it couldn’t be used for parking right up to the wall. Gas meters, a fire escape, and litter contributed to the bleakness.
Since no one could park there, and the fire stairs are (hopefully !) seldom used, and only a limited amount of snow can be pushed in there, and never scooped out and trucked away … the Somerset Public Advisory Committee (PAC) lobbied to have the area landscaped as part of the Somerset reconstruction project. It wasn’t on public right of way, but Luciano agreed to the landscaping. A curb, some topsoil, and a bunch of hostas later, there is an attractive, hardy-as-iron garden space that greens an otherwise lost corner. It won’t require maintenance.
And that is why community volunteers come back time and time again to PACs for various road, transit, and reconstruction projects, or for new projects like the OTrain MUP or the LRT. For every idea that gets implemented, several others get discovered, examined, lobbied for, and discarded.
Please take a moment to compare the before and after pictures above. What a difference a better pedestrian environment makes ! The planter behind the billboard is such a small part of the total streetscaping experience, but the victories, no matter how small, are so sweet.