OAK BAY letter: Redefining suburbia

Wouldn’t dedicating more public space to them only take away from the little park space and wildlife habitat still remaining in Oak Bay?

Oak Bay Coun. Tara Ney has called for more community gardens for Oak Bay, saying that there needs to be places for food production.

Community gardens beat paved space any day, but wouldn’t dedicating more public space to them only take away from the little park space and wildlife habitat still remaining in Oak Bay?

The place for growing food is the backyard, but this is exactly what the current council’s rush to residential densification is going to destroy. Even if space were to be found for community gardens, most people would not trek off to an allotment at a distance.

Gardening is an individual occupation and the backyard a canvas for personal creativity — or so it was in the original conception of sub-urban living. That vision valued privacy, but the innate human need for private space and time is sometimes devalued in current eco-communitarian thinking.

At the recent official community plan open house, most notes posted on the information tables provided asked for more green space and less building. Most comments ran counter to the developer-driven agenda for commercial/residential densification that the current council seems determined to push through.

Towns historically grew outward from centres of trade. People came to a weekly or daily market to buy and sell. The spread of living spaces around these urban cores we call “sub-urbia”, but maybe we should think of them as “super-ruralia.” If we labelled residential family-raising neighbourhoods differently, we might value them differently.

What people most miss as spreading cities engulf them with noise, pollution and brutal architecture, is a natural, spacious, less commercialized environment.

Houses originally dotted landscapes among fields and woods, which children in past generations could access for healthy outdoor play. This is super-ruralia, not sub-urbia. The latter implies some sort of demotion from the hectic excitements of deep urbanism … but the environment most healthy for the human animal is a modification of the wild, rather than a fringe of commercialism.

Too many people on planet Earth suffer a life in crowded housing from which they travel to a crowded workplace in a crowded crush of public transport. Never alone, never quiet … no wonder crime rates and mental disorders increase as cities grow.

Barbara Julian

Oak Bay

 

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