Thursday, July 05, 2007

For the setup please see the original post.

I has now been two full work-days since I called the city of Burnaby about the garbage issue surrounding the steps.

I took the wildflower seed infused papers, soaked overnight as per the directions, and planted them under a little dirt. I made sure they were really soaked and that the dirt was wet because it was beautifully hot today and I was worried about them drying out. They may dry and die anyway because I don't think there's much in the way of rain on the way, and I'm leaving town for three days on Sunday.

We'll see, tomorrow I'll force myself from in front of the
lcd for long enough to wander down there with a jug-o-water.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Garden Continued

For the setup please see the original post.

I’m not the greatest go-gettingest-self-priming-and-starting-briggs-and-stratton gardener you’ve ever met, so I decided to start small.

Four shopping bags and a half-time refreshment small.

I spent about 45 minutes picking up garbage, although I stopped for a “pop” halfway through so I couldn’t have spent more than half-hour on actual work. I filled the four bags with garbage, most of it cups and wrappers from Micky Dee’s. Looking at the base of the steps things are definitely cleaning up, but at the top I barely made a dent in the surface garbage.

I used a stick to dig down a layer and I think the situation up top is more along the lines of an excavation than a simple cleanup.
This’ll require professional help.

Enter the Burnaby Engineering Department – 604 294-7210.

I didn’t expect it to be this easy. The site is near the train tracks and a highway. I thought I would get bounced between departments while trying to figure out which taxpayers, and which taxes, would be finally responsible for helping with the cleanup. I've run into similar situations trying to tell a story about potholes and who is responsible for filling them in.

The absolutely professional and pleasant person at the BED was more than happy to write up two work orders for me. One was to have a city crew remove the remaining refuse, the other was to have the area assessed for garbage-can-installation-viability. I’m happy the city will send someone(s) to clean, but it kind of stinks (and will for a while I imagine) that the area has to be “watched for a few months to see if we can put a garbage bin there.”

So, with an hour work (including commute) and a phone call we’ve got a moderately cleaner staircase that is about to get a whole lot better.
I am going to celebrate today’s success with a “pop” or two and the beach.

Oh, and sometime tomorrow I have to plant these earth-day flower-papers I found while organizing my filing cabinet.

The Garden

An experiment in unauthorized park and flora establishment for the betterment of public space

For about a year now whenever I make the decision to walk to work I pass a flight of stairs that look, for the most part, messy and ugly.

Not that I don't absolutely love seeing plant life that has begun to take over, but the overgrown and unruly flora distract only slightly from the collection of McRefuse and Tim’s own unrecyclable paper cups.The leftovers not only look disgusting, but the smell on a hot day was bad enough to make me swear off McDonald's forever (probably a good thing.) I honestly think the warm ice-teas and whatever-with-cheeses are stewing under the undergrowth and if left unchecked Burnaby could find itself facing something along the lines of a Troma video.

So yeah, it’s gross. But why has it happened?

I believe the main reason for the garbage-buildup is the bus stop.

Not that the bus stop is itself responsible, but the startling lack of a garbage bin means people who don’t want to break Translink rules by eating or drinking on the bus (thanks Translink!) find themselves forced to toss their refreshments willy-nilly on the ground when boarding.

At first I tried not to blame the bussies because I like to think of transiteers as a more socially responsible group, but I have been walking this route the better part of a year now and not once have I seen another person anywhere around the steps other than bus stop. The lack of substantial foot-traffic could be because of the disgusting smell, but really I think people don’t come down the steps because there simply isn’t much to go down them to.

It’s a quiet street with very little in the way of traffic, and even less in the way of homes or businesses. It borders on the train tracks, so there really isn’t even a south side of the road for anything to reside-upon.

I’m going to take this neglected patch of urban landscape and create an enjoyable public space. I’m hoping the small amount of foot-traffic through the space means once this little project is underway there won’t be a high amount of day-to-day maintenance.

The hidden gem is the most beautiful anyway right?

What needs to happen:
• Remove garbage.
• Install or have installed a garbage bin for the bus stop.
• Trim bushes and remove old trimmings.
• Weed (that’s remove-em you hippies.)
• Plant some plants.
• Find some buckets or barrels for rain-water.
• Install seating and sign.
• Throw a party.