Contributed by Sarah — Hardscapes replacing greenery
Walking around our lovely neighbourhood this spring with my visiting parents, they observed the growing expanse of hardspace, tragically at the expense of green space. There were even instances of recently-built front yard parking pads where just last spring there were wonderful gardens. New parking pads have been banned for some time downtown, including in our wards. So it is almost certain that these pads, which were built for the sole benefit of the property owners and not the community, are illegal. Thus, they will need to be removed and replaced with vegetation.
In addition to the decline of the natural beauty and character of our leafy neighborhood, hardscapes raises legions of environment concerns. For instance, hardscapes make the city hotter because hard stones or pavement absorb heat more than vegetation does. This results in both a harsher environment for nearby trees and plants and, generally, more money and energy spent on air conditioning. Hardscapes generally do not absorb rainwater and melted snow into the ground. Thus, this water runs onto the road and into storm sewers. The flowing water picks up pollutants: fertilizer and pesticides, grease and petroleum products, bacteria etc. This all goes, untreated, into the lake, which is the source of our drinking water. As many of you unfortunately know, overloaded storm sewers also cause basement flooding.
Thus, to protect our greenery, the city by-law that applies to Cabbagetown says at least 75% of a front yard must be softscape. This means the maximum permissible hardscape is 25%.
So what can you do to keep Cabbagetown green? You can start by talking to the property owners. If they are resistant, you can report infractions of this by-law and related by-laws, like the tree protection by-law, to the city’s call centre. Call 311 and file a report. Then a by-law enforcement officer or inspector will be sent out. Follow up. If the problem is not rectified, be persistent. You can always complain to your city councilor. While you might upset the property owners, remember that neighbours come and go, but neighbourhoods go on forever. Let’s do our part to keep Cabbagetown forever green! The majority of your neighbours, present and future, will thank you.
Please feel free to write in & share your own tips on keeping our community green.