Vancouver Green Streets

May 20, 2015
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Vancouver Green Streets

Collaboration between the city of Vancouver and resident volunteers
creates community and beautiful green spaces

On a recent visit to my daughter in Vancouver, British Columbia, as I walked the two blocks from the Sky Train station to her apartment, I stopped at the corner of her street to admire a small garden between the sidewalk and the road. A sign in the garden titled Green Streets said “This garden is being cared for by a local resident involved in the Green Streets program.” Walking through the city over the next couple of days, I encountered more such gardens.

Vancouver Green Streets garden

Green Street gardens are planted on traffic circles and corner bulges. The City of Vancouver pays for and does the initial planting. Volunteer gardeners maintain the plots, weeding and watering as required. Gardeners may add personal touches with favourite plants and garden ornaments. The City provides guidance on the types of plants to choose, offers design assistance, and supplies free compost in spring and fall.

Vancouver Green Street traffic circle garden

Vancouver has watering restrictions in place June through September. Drought-resistant plants are recommended for these gardens. The City also has a ban on the use of pesticides for cosmetic use. Pesticides can only be used on lawn and gardens to control an infestation or destroy a health hazard.

The Green Streets program has rules regarding the size and spread of plants to ensure visibility around traffic circles and corners, access to utility covers (e.g. manholes) for city workers, and unobstructed sidewalk access.

Vancouver Green Streets garden

Volunteer gardeners gain a greater sense of community and experience the joy of gardening and creating something beautiful. They also have access to mentor master gardeners.

Green spaces and gardens enhance a city. The Green Streets program is a way to beautify the city and create a stronger community. The Green Streets program website calls these gardens “traffic calming spaces.”

Vancouver Green Streets garden

Do you know of other city and resident garden collaborations?

Vancouver Green Streets sign

 


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  • Reply
    jacquiegum
    May 22, 2015 at 9:44 am

    I love the whole idea of the green streets program! What a great way to keep residents actively involved in their own neighborhoods. The result is beautiful. I’d love to see this program evolve in so many places hre in the US. Do you know of any Donna?

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      May 22, 2015 at 10:05 am

      Jacquie, I don’t know whether there are any programs like Vancouver’s Green Streets in the U.S. or in other Canadian cities. I would hope so. This was the first time I’d come across something like it. I will certainly be looking more closely in other places now.

  • Reply
    Catarina Alexon
    May 25, 2015 at 9:39 am

    Seems the green street concept is a global pheonomena. Have noticed it here as well. It’s a great idea and the more it spreads the better.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      May 25, 2015 at 5:18 pm

      Catarina, I’m glad to hear you’ve noticed the green street concept in your part of the world. It is a great idea.

  • Reply
    Erica
    May 25, 2015 at 11:46 am

    The gardens are very nice. I imagine we couldn’t have anything like this in Los Angeles right now unless we planted all cacti. We aren’t even supposed to water our lawns. Needless to say, it is a great concept and I hope more cities take it up.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      May 25, 2015 at 5:20 pm

      Erica, Vancouver has watering restrictions in place and encourages planting of drought-tolerant plants in these green spaces. However, Vancouver gets more rainfall than you probably do in Los Angeles, especially with the drought you’ve been experiencing over the last few years.

  • Reply
    eatsleepbefancy
    May 25, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    The results are stunning and what a great idea, if only more places would implement this.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      May 25, 2015 at 5:21 pm

      The results are stunning. These photos were taken in spring. I hope I get a chance to revisit later in summer and see how they look at another time of year.

  • Reply
    Phoenicia
    May 25, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    What a pretty street!

    As I do not live in the USA, I have no idea about the ‘Green Street’ program.

    One thing I do know is the roads in the USA are so much wider than those in the UK. In fact everything in the USA is far bigger – why should the roads be any different!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      May 26, 2015 at 8:12 am

      Vancouver, British Columbia is actually in Canada, not the U.S, but streets in Canada are like the U.S. in that they are wider than those in the U.K. Many of the residential streets with these gardens are narrower streets. It is not the width of the street that makes the gardens possible, but the space available at curbside, beside sidewalks and in the centre of traffic circles. Offhand, I don’t remember there being a lot of space like that in the places I visited in the U.K., but I will be paying more attention to it in my next visit this fall.

  • Reply
    Rose Mary Griffith
    May 25, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    The lovely little town of Red Lodge, Montana had a community garden program when I lived there–I think it has continued. I admire that work!!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      June 5, 2015 at 7:57 am

      Rose Mary, that’s nice to hear. Community gardens (often with a focus on vegetables) are becoming more common in my home city of Winnipeg, which i think is a good thing, but we don’t have something like the curbside beautification program in Vancouver.

  • Reply
    SafariOnTheBlog
    May 26, 2015 at 4:56 am

    Oh wow! never heard of the “Green Street” Program but I love the whole idea of the program.
    The streets are beautiful!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      May 26, 2015 at 8:13 am

      Thanks. I was impressed with the program too.

  • Reply
    lenie5860
    May 26, 2015 at 5:53 am

    Donna, I can understand why these Green Streets gardens would be called “traffic calming spaces.” What a fantastic idea – both for the city and the resident. I would love to have access to mentor master gardeners, as a matter of fact that has often been one of my wishes. Oh I hope it spreads. Thanks Donna

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      May 26, 2015 at 8:14 am

      Lenie, it would be nice to see it spread.

  • Reply
    Meredith Wouters
    May 26, 2015 at 8:30 am

    Beautiful, and what a great program. I’ve visited Vancouver twice and what I remember most is how green and lush their gardens are. I’ve never seen more flowers, just walking down the street.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      May 27, 2015 at 8:54 am

      Meredith, I like the lushness of the gardens in Vancouver too.

  • Reply
    heraldmarty
    May 26, 2015 at 9:06 am

    Wow! I don’t know of any other program like this but I sure wish I did! I would love to see something like this on Maui but I don’t believe it would happen anytime soon since a lot of our streets still don’t even have sidewalks!

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      May 27, 2015 at 8:55 am

      There are some places this program wouldn’t work, but it would be nice to see it in more places.

  • Reply
    Anna Khan
    May 26, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Wow! this is beautiful. I live in Islamabad Pakistan and many streets are maintained by (CDA) Capital development authority. As Islamabad is capital of Pakistan and one of the beautiful capital of the world. I read a ranking few days back and Islamabad was in top ten in terms of beauty.
    CDA keep the city beautiful, road dividers have trees and plantation, but I never think about the idea, how it feel and how much effort is put in this thing.
    Such efforts must be admired and more people should come forward and make the city clean and beautiful.
    Thank you for a great share.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      May 27, 2015 at 9:00 am

      Anna, it’s great that the city maintains the dividers so beautifully.

  • Reply
    Ken Dowell
    May 26, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    The gardens you showed in your photos really make the neighborhoods look more attractive. This is a great idea that should be spread around, maybe even to the “garden state” where I live.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      May 28, 2015 at 7:14 am

      Ken, it would be nice to see similar programs in more places.

  • Reply
    Tim
    May 28, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    What a great idea. It would be nice if other cities followed suit; San Francisco could certainly do with a few more gardens roadside. Nothing better to instill pride than a community garden. Thanks Donna.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      May 28, 2015 at 5:31 pm

      Tim I thought the gardens were a good idea. Of course, there are also spots in Vancouver where they aren’t as prevalent as the area I visited.

  • Reply
    Beth Niebuhr
    May 28, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    They are really beautiful. I love that concept. Here in AZ where it’s very dry, we have to do things a bit differently. Thanks for sharing those pictures.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      May 30, 2015 at 7:48 am

      Thanks Beth. Things do have be done a little differently in extremely dry areas, but I also quite like the natural vegetation in Arizona.

  • Reply
    Jason @ TheButlerJournal.com
    May 29, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    The Green Street program seems pretty nice. Atlanta needs something like that. A lot of our street corners are bare.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      May 30, 2015 at 7:48 am

      Thanks Jason.

  • Reply
    Janice & George (@SandInSuitcase)
    June 5, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    Don’t you love the term “traffic calming spaces”? It was great to read about this program in our city :-). We also have other community gardens (e.g., in West Vancouver) where residents of apartments and condos can get their gardening fix – and people walking by can see their beautiful handiwork.

    • Reply
      Donna Janke
      June 6, 2015 at 8:23 am

      Traffic calming spaces is a great term. I like how community gardens are becoming more popular. They are becoming more common here in Winnipeg too, but nothing like the scale in the Vancouver area.

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