Green space, and pink space and blue space…
Towns and cities of the 21st century are often filled with buildings big and small, asphalt roads, cement sidewalks and, if your community is lucky, green space.
New York City has Central Park, Chicago has Millennium Park, London has Hyde Park, St. John’s has Bowring Park, and Bonavista has the Orange Hall Public Garden. All are towns and cities with planned green space built into their built environment.
Though some green spaces may be far smaller than others — such as the Public Garden in Bonavista versus the enormous parks of large cities — green space is green space. No matter what the size, these sites have tremendous value in any community.
In Atlantic Canada ‘official’ and ‘designated’ green space has often been left to the cities. Now, however, many smaller communities expect gardens and parks built into their neighbourhoods.
Green spaces, which come in many forms, make an essential contribution to the quality of life of citizens in any region. These areas provide a recreational resource, a peaceful retreat for young and old, a medium for social interaction, possibly a learning and play site for children, a reserve for wildlife within a man-made city/townscape, as well as an attractive backdrop to built development or heritage.
With this said, green spaces are often not given the same priority as other calls on municipal funds. Town/city squares, parks, gardens and buffers currently found in your community, or lack thereof, are the legacy or failure of past administrations and community organizations.
With our current and growing knowledge of community wellness, aesthetics, and the environment, we must push our communities to offer affordable investments in ourselves and in our natural landscape.
In Bonavista, for example, we have seen notable growth in construction as of late but no additional green space has been set aside for the community’s residents to share and protect.
Bonavista offers no park with built infrastructure to cater to all ages. We have, however, seen significant investments in public green space on a smaller scale: flower beds, tree plantings, and now the Orange Hall Public Garden. These projects, many of them a result of partnerships between the municipality or Heritage Townscape Foundation and the Horticultural Society, offer tremendous benefit to the entire region but each community should work toward a greening of their asphalt maze.
When a new housing development or commercial zone is planned, a community should automatically protect or replant a certain percentage of land as common/public space for all to enjoy.
Creating or designating a park in your community should not be difficult. Lobbying your local governing bodies and councils is a great start. Gardening and a treed landscape offer something to everyone; not just gardeners.
Do your part and start a small community or public garden, park or protected area in your town or city.
It is a great community project to involve all ages and groups, resulting in a wonderful sense of pride in your region. Green your community in any way you can and questions involving such an endeavor are welcomed.
Until next time, let’s wait together for this rainy and cool June to end.