To the editor,
Re: "When laneways were so much more," Feb. 27.
I agree with Terri Clark that "the good earth deserves more from us" but there has been progress in Vancouver since the 1960s and '70s, thank heavens.
I grew up in the West End, the Ridge District, then bought a built-in-1911 house just off Dunbar Street and now hail from tidy, if not a bit isolationist eastern Kerrisdale. Gone are the older gardeners who sprayed their plants with DDT, Malathion and Diazinon multiple times each year. The plants in their gardens were rarely indigenous to B.C. being more of the strains brought back by the Raj from India. You found more gooseberries than Labrador tea or salmonberry in those backyards.
Thankfully, gone are the tangles of noxious weeds like broom, climbing rose or the blood-thirsty Himalayan blackberry that produced little fruit, any of which usually rotted on the rain-soaked cane. The same was true for unpruned and unpicked pears, peaches and apples.
As to "allowing their semi-woody backyard plants the luxury of letting their 'hair' down in wild abandon," I suggest Ms. Clark speak to BC Hydro first along with the telephone/cable companies about the trouble that causes, not to mention the abandoned compost heaps that rats love so much.
What Vancouver's back alleys and backyards need is urban tidiness, laneway housing and greenhouses to assist in the production of food. Secret Gardens must give way to raised vegetable beds.
We need bylaws that encourage carefully maintained urban orchards and the banning/removal of shrubs that damage them. The height of boulevard, front and backyard trees needs to be restricted to a reasonable eight meters so that urban crops and future rooftop solar panels have a chance to receive light.
While a "magnificent tumbled down and expansive garden" may please Ms. Clark and serve people who love the grunge look (and wish to argue with the BC Assessment for lower property values), I doubt this could be agreeable to most newer owners.
This is a slowly maturing city, not Mother Nature unfettered. Ongoing productive change is as natural and inevitable now as the loss of complete wilderness was when Captain Vancouver and other explorers first saw this place.
Paul Baumann, Vancouver