Recent articles have drawn attention to the unattractive trees and gardens on Bank Street in Old Ottawa South and have raised the question — whose job is it to remedy this situation?
The Old Ottawa South Traffic and Safety Committee, chaired by Winnie Pietrykowski, has also asked that question. The Traffic Committee, in addition to following up on the OOS Traffic Survey with the City officials and sitting on the Lansdowne Traffic Monitoring Operations Committee (LTMOC) has acted on the notion that greener streets can play a role in encouraging more respectful and safe driving by those passing through our community. In this regard, a member of the Traffic Committee has become engaged with the Sunnyside Avenue Traffic Calming and Green Streets Project.
The OSCA Traffic Committee is also taking an interest in the greening of Bank Street, like others, for aesthetic reasons, but also because with more plants and trees dotting the masses of cement, Bank Street will have more of a community feel and drivers may be more inclined to slow down and pay attention to traffic lights and safety signs.
With this in mind, the Traffic Committee met with an official of the City’s Forestry Department in July 2014 and walked up and down both sides of Bank Street together taking note of where improvements could be made.
Of course, nothing is easy! It was interesting to note several points — apparently the City has has no gardeners for plants and flowers, only for trees and shrubs. Trees and shrubs can be planted by the City on City property and are watered for one year but are on their own after that. As well, there does not seem to be any rhyme or reason as to which streetscape properties are owned by the City and which are owned by the various store owners. On the walkabout, the Forestry official had a map which identified city and non-city properties. We identified 7-8 places where new trees could be planted by the City on City property. In some cases, dead trees would have to be removed and the City would do this where new trees are to be planted. Our contact from the Forestry Department has put the wheels in motion to request that work be done with respect to the removal of dead trees and the planting of new ones and our hope is that we will see signs of this in the Spring of 2015.
Work by the City on the trees will help but it still leaves unattended the gardens and the properties owned by the merchants. Observers will have noted and appreciated that some merchants have made an effort by hanging flowering plants or planting gardens in from of their stores. We have especially noted the efforts of the owners of Boomerang Kids and the Siam Kitchen who have tidied up their gardens and removed unsightly dead trees from in front of their lots.
As noted by others, some form of co-ordination is necessary and we look forward to joining forces with interested parties including Councillor Chernushenko who has recently indicated his support in the Ottawa Sun.