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Monday, February 8, 2010

Paving Paradise: The CFPC in the Media: Backyard Gardens vs Asphalt Jungle


Paving Paradise: The CFPC in the Media: Backyard Gardens vs Paving Paradise

The Metro

“I think we should be promoting green spaces and arable areas instead of focusing on aesthetics. I think we need to have more garages under houses than in the backyards,” Hughes said.

The Calgary Sun

Paul Hughes, chair of the CFPC, said proposed amendments to the document that guides city development could be the death knell for backyard gardens and green spaces if it’s approved.

Paving paradise is exactly what we’re doing here — we’re turning our backs on our heritage and people being able to make decisions with their own properties,” he said.

“The city is so focused on how things look from the front that everything else is ignored.”

Seems some members of #YYCCC Calgary City Council would like to eliminate options for homeowners to choose where and how they build their garages (with their money), even if it is at the expense of backyard family gardens. There is very little creativity coming from admin or council on this issue. Seems Paving Paradise is their solution. Calgarians know better.

The CFPC position on urban land use is not an exclusive focus, except where applicable, such as the redevelopment of individual lots for another single residence. The current implementation of Calgary Land Use Policy vis~a~vis Development/Redevelopment does not consider the option of assigned growing spaces (within 500m) to allow for a dovetailing of Household Food Security & Increased Urban Density.

Regardless of our dreams for increased densities, Calgarians continue to purchase single family older homes with the intention of building a new single family home. Only this time, the home is to have a rear detached garage, usually built on top of the space where the backyard garden exists. Certainly it is more than a Food vs Car issue and the CFPC recognizes this. We are attempting to assert the argument that, in cases such as redevelopment, priority consideration should be given to maintaining arable green space, not parking space. The benefits of less asphalt, more intact green space, more neighbours and decreased construction costs factor into our position as well.

Encouragingly, some subdivision developers are attempting to eliminate backlanes. There are options for garage space other than backlane, detached garages and some developers are introducing alternative construction choices. One option supported by the CFPC focuses on a garage design that is incorporated into the home's footprint, essentially locating the garage underneath part of the home.

Ironically, proponents of vibrant front streets want to transfer more energy and interaction to the back lane. The New Urbanism Curb Appeal chant does not recognize many of the factors that actually encourage active & dynamic streets. Relegating certain elements of daily life to backlanes defaults to a defacto class system. By hiding certain 'undesirable' aspects of urban life in backlanes, we create an ideal environment for other activities, just ask the CPS how convenient backlanes are for crime. The backlane-double garage combo divides neighbours like a 21st century Urban Hadrian's Wall. It is a reach to consider backlanes/garages as positive elements of vibrant communities.

Again, the CFPC prioritizes expanding/increasing collaborative local urban agriculture/food security initiatives. Clearly we'll choose parking our vehicles on the street (they must be that wide for a reason), waving, greeting, talking to our neighbours out front and talking to all of our neighbours while cultivating our backyard gardens if the other option is a policy that continues to pave paradise.

1 comment:

HaloAngelBoy said...

They could make a compromise and make rooftop greenspace mandatory (basically that you have to replace any paved/displaced greenery)

see something like http://www.fytogreen.com.au/docs/Paddington%20Roof%20Garden.pdf