Wednesday, January 30, 2008

who would walk dogs in parking lots, anyway?

The more I think about that parking lot the city is putting in at the corner of Cumberland and Camelot streets, the angrier I get. Is this the solution to help beautify downtown cores that are struggling to stay alive in places like my town where box store mentality has clouded quite a few heads?

Is this the solution our city council comes up with? Add more asphalt? Add more surface parking for cars? Enable car culture? Add more gray (dead) space? Lifeless of any green, no trees, just easy-to-snow-plow empty spaces of urban ugliness? Add to existing mistakes? Continue old ways of "development"?

Besides the near empty Shoreline Hotel parking lot, close by, on the next corner, is another near empty parking lot across from the Whalen Building. I can't imagine in my wildest dreams that there is somehow going to be a rush of cars vying to park in this new parking lot. And shouldn't we be encouraging public transit instead? Thinking of ways to make public transit and walking desirable means of getting from place to place?

What about 3 trees on that small corner lot instead? A small unexpected oasis of green? A green sweep to clean skies? to soothe eyes that are already accosted with rundown? Trees to commune with like the cedars by McVicar's Creek (photo on the left)? Or perhaps city councilors are afraid "the wrong elements" will hang out in the park if they put a bench there? Or maybe trees need to be pruned. By city workers that need to be hired. Maybe the park will need maintenance -- unlike asphalt, which just needs re-surfacing again and again. And again. This is NWO, afterall.

With asphalt you can just forget that that lot even exists because--you can bet--that none of the city councilors live downtown P.A. or even WALK through it regularly.

This morning while I was making my pot of oatmeal*, I listened to Sounds Like Canada on CBC radio (scroll down to Wed Jan 30 to hear the podcast: "the relationship between commuting and urban sprawl"). The program was about re-designing cities to get away from wasteful sprawl and wisely create dense downtown living spaces. The guests spoke about creating pedestrian conducive environments, becoming more environmentally and economically sustainable, and using space in new ways that harken back to becoming communities of citizens rather than simply passersby in cars.

Surface parking, stated one of the guests, is a wasteful, expensive way of using urban land. Visionary cities are thinking of ways to get away from this old way of blighting the landscape, that moves cities away from being networks of pedestrians. Interesting, I thought, some cities see surface parking as expensive and problematic on many different levels, while other towns see parking lots as the answer!!!!

* listening to CBC's "The Current" one morning, I became aware of the proper way to make oatmeal porridge. According to a caller's grandmother's Scottish tradition, one must only stir the oatmeal clockwise as it cooks. So, I tried it and, like putting the milk in your mug before pouring in the tea, it works.

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