A group of NOCA volunteers have been working hard to re-imagine and refresh the green space/parkette located at Milton and Franklyn Streets. We have received a number of complaints about this boulevard and have some suggestions to improve it with the city’s permission.
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Our Rationale for the changes
1.) Safety. Sight lines obstructed by roses creating a danger of children using the crosswalk. The current height of the rose bushes are 3 feet 7 inch.
Justification: According to the city of Nanaimo’s guidelines for boulevards: https://www.nanaimo.ca/property-development/development-applications/urban-forestry/boulevard-gardening
Plant Selection and Maintenance
· For boulevard areas near intersections, driveways, curbs, sidewalk edges and/or where visibility may be a concern, select low-growing plants that are no taller than 60cm. As these roses have been planted by the city, we request that the city remove them, ideally replanting them further down on the boulevard on Milton where there is no crosswalk. Again we refer to city guidelines.
· If the plant heights are deemed to be a visibility or safety concern, or do not meet the above guidelines, the City of Nanaimo reserves the right to ask that the plants be trimmed or to have them removed.
We would like to see white winter heather planted in this section of the boulevard to again follow the city guidelines. Choose drought-tolerant plants, native plants, and plants with winter interest to create a water wise boulevard that looks great in all seasons.
The benefit of heather is that maintenance will be minimal and only require an annual trim along the sidewalk. The current selection of roses have not been adequately trimmed leading us to our second concern with its current condition.
The lack of care of the area is making it attractive for drug use and littering of drug paraphernalia. Small children attend music lessons beside the park at Cross Canada Fiddle. Dog owners with pets will not walk their dogs through the park for concerns of stepping on a needle. Fires are being used to inhale fumes of drug substances and the material is being left and unattended.
2.) Appearance. The lack of care and maintenance for the roses looks messy and un-cared for.
Well maintained green spaces Green spaces entice neighbours outdoors on a regular basis, where they build friendships and community ties Studies show that neighbourhood beautification can reduce crime rates: In a study of inner-city neighbourhoods in the U.S., greener residences had lower crime rates, Inner-city families with trees and greenery in their immediate outdoor surroundings have safer domestic environments, Neighbourhoods with well-cared for landscapes contribute to reduced feelings of fear and violence. Community beautification raises community and individual pride, and often brings a community closer together for common activities, with noticeable crime reduction effects. In one example, Pond Street in New Haven, Connecticut, suffered from the presence of illegal drug sales, trash, loiterers, and noise complaints from residents. The Block Watch resolved to take back some of its territory by planting flowers along curbsides and in a blighted lot on the corner. With 100 percent participation of their group, they turned the neighborhood into a beautiful garden. Other cleanups and beautification seemed to flow naturally. The beautification idea has now spread to nearby streets. Besides the visual benefits of beautification, crime has receded. https://www.dchealthmatters.org/promisepractice/index/view?pid=80
Other noteworthy studies:
A benefit of the replacement of the roses to heather plants would bring the maintenance of the plants to a trim once a year and a mulching in the spring until they are established. Once established they will only need a yearly trim. These plants will also make the area unwalkable making it necessary that individuals use the sidewalk as intended.
We at NOCA are willing to purchase heather plants and move the roses if the city does not have finances or the manpower at this time. We will also transplant the roses further down the boulevard along Milton where sightlines are not an issue. This is especially important to us as a neighborhood as the house directly beside this boulevard has a home based business teaching small children music. The risks of sightlines and the negative social ramifications of the current lack of care of this boulevard is too much and we need a change.
The movement of the benches would allow people with mobility issues to access them. Where they currently are does not make them accessible for people who cannot walk on uneven ground especially during the wet season.
4. Damage to the tree roots.
Walking to the bench is damaging the roots of the city tree. For the long term health of the tree having this area not be walked on would be beneficial.