Wintertime in Vancouver may mean walking the Seawalk in the rain or the drizzle. Whatever the weather, many do. This week, thirty-foot logs and other driftwood littered the shore more than usual. The Vietnamese crab fishers were still there, but there were several changes.
Most significant is the revitalization of the foreshore habitat between Ambleside and Dundarave which continues apace. Several years ago, a major storm in early January drove the logs and the waves over the Seawalk, washing out parts of the stone wall which protects the walk from the sea. Over the years, the waves, the tides and the currents have eroded the sediment and vegetation which formerly protected the beach and absorbed the water pouring into the sea from the many streams. The City of West Vancouver has put in place a Foreshore Protection and Management Plan to widen the beach, create a reef, and restore the sediment and natural habitat that existed before. Huge boulders now sit on the inter-tidal beach as part of the project. When the tide is in, many of the boulders disappear below ripples in the water. It’s quite the enterprise, undoubtedly necessary to secure the Seawalk, which is so central to the life of the local community.
The renewed children’s playground in John Lawson Park is now finished. It has a large pirate ship apparatus, a little train with several cars, a huge train station climber, two water pumps (one leading into what simulates a sluice box, the other over a stream), a fancy new splash pad, a “kids only” playhouse, new swings, new tunnels cut out of branches, a nice mix of the most modern with natural materials. Situated among the trees beside the sea, it is delightful.
There are also new allotment gardens in the park beside the beach. Thirty tiny new gardens, each designated by wooden four-by-fours, have been created for urban gardeners. What is remarkable about this development is the placement of the gardens, smack dab in the middle of an area which formerly was nothing but grass. It looks like they are preparing to add another set of gardens of a similar size next to the first.
Allotment gardens are not unusual. The City of West Vancouver has a right of first refusal on all the private properties which line the beach in the area of the park. When the city buys individual houses, some are converted into park facilities. Others are demolished and allotment gardens installed to fill the twenty-five or so feet of land between the remaining private homes. There are also allotment gardens further west between the railroad tracks and some high-rise apartments.
But allotment gardens, in the middle of the grass in what is already public park land, is something new. To my mind, it is a healthy development. There is ample common space in this park. Providing more space for urban farmers to grow their own food and flowers is a contribution to well-being in the community which should be encouraged. Good gardeners such as my neighbours in Toronto can grow a great deal in a small space. Some apartment-dwellers have prolific balcony gardens. Allotment gardens bring pleasure to those who till them, and to everyone else who enjoys the beautiful flowering plants that bloom in the gardens, thanks to the efforts of their fellow citizens. There could be no better use of a public park!