We posted an event listing the other day about the transformation of a little corner on the eastern edge of Kensington Market at Oxford and Spadina. This wasn’t a City-sanctioned project — instead it was a community intervention to improve the appearance of an intersection and the health of some dehydrated (and possibly dying) trees.
I went by late yesterday afternoon to check it out. The photos above and to the right are what the corner looked like in the late morning — the photo below is the final product.
The team of volunteers from Streets Are For People lifted the cement blocks that were covering the base of the tree. These covers are meant to protect the tree’s root system from exposure to road salt and pedestrian traffic. Instead, the cement is far more destructive by it blocking a fair amount of water from reaching the soil (the tiny holes drilled into the cement covers are meant to funnel water towards the roots but are usually plugged with leaves, soil, or litter).
Even better, the cement covers were converted into benches by being placed on top of donated cinder blocks. The trees provide shade while these new seats provide a resting place for the heavy pedestrian traffic found on Spadina in Chinatown. Residents of the building that face onto this corner have also promised to water the tree pits (now also adorned with flowers).
The before and after photos show the visual benefits of adding (or revealing) softer elements to the streetscape. By including the benches into the scheme, this corner has been changed from a place to walk through into a place to pause and relax.
Check out the project’s photo gallery on Flickr. Photos courtesy of Yvonne Bambrick.