Return of the Fake Trees

The City of Ottawa proposed a few years back to install metal and plastic trees along Bronson because  “there was no room for real trees”. Strong community opposition lead to a citizen’s initiative to show the planners where they could be installed, given more effort. And whatever beauty Bronson will show this summer is due to that effort.

Those thoughts were engendered by the offhand remark of a city employee just before Christmas who commented that Bronson didn’t turn out so bad after all, that all our fuss was for nothing.

I beg to differ.

The street is less awful than before, but just barely. The powers that be that run city hall screwed the neighbourhood back then in their misguided attempt to cater to car commuters.

We could have had a better street for motorists and residents too.

Which brings to memory a trip last spring to London, On. The City has some marvellous downtown parks, full of large trees. Trees of the size Ottawa is afraid to plant.

It also has a mainstreet that for some reason is denuded of real trees in favour of fake metal ones. I’m sure some folks will call these sculptures. But they simply don’t compare to real trees. Real trees the city, for whatever reasons, didn’t see fit to plant along their main street. Until proven otherwise, the lack of real trees shows a lack of effort on their part to make them a priority. IMO, it’s about choice.

So here is a photo portfolio of London, Ontario’s downtown street trees.

may 31, 2013 171 may 31, 2013 172 may 31, 2013 170

It is possible the metal trees will eventually rust out, and be replaced by real trees. While walking the sidewalks in London, I thought there appeared to be lots of room for silva cell planting, so there would be room for trees, roots, and public utilities.

may 31, 2013 174 may 31, 2013 175

With a wide boulevard like this, there seems to be room to plant a real tree, although it would block some of the view of that wonderful parking lot:

may 31, 2013 183

This metal tree interspersed with real trees seems OK, providing contrasting colour and winter presence:

may 31, 2013 184


At one time Ottawa was considered a beautiful green city, but years of municipal stagnation has left our streetscapes increasingly barren. We simply don’t find nicely planted medians in this city, although they can be found on the main streets of our formerly poorer cousins across the river. As a city planner said to me regarding planting the Carling Avenue median: that’s what the NCC is for. If you want pretty, go to their park. Fortunately, the effort to plant the Carling median is alive again.


3 thoughts on “Return of the Fake Trees

  1. While it was good that the Bronson / Gladstone intersection got narrowed down a bit, the street remains an ugly traffic sewer. (And kudos to whoever came up with that term!)

  2. Sadly, one of the real trees planted on Somerset (north-west corner of Rochester intersection) has fallen victim to, judging from the tracks,an over-zealous sidewalk snow remover.

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