While strolling through Coal Harbour yesterday I noticed how futile the attempts have been to add a strip of grass along some downtown streets.  The conditions of wear and tear appear most severe adjacent curbside parking, witnessed here along Bute Street near Pender:
2017-06-01 16.51.43
I applaud the effort of the city to bring some green to our boulevards, but lets face it this isn’t the look and surface we’re aiming for.  When you turn the corner however your eye is drawn to a seemingly flawless linear putting green, in stark contrast to the worn dirt fringe down the street:
2017-06-01 16.58.58
This of course is artificial grass, a low maintenance but high cost alternative for a splash of green in the city.  I have to admit some of the early installations looked a bit fake, but these areas appear decently realistic.  The contrasts of the two treatments also exist on both sides of Davie Street at Homer:
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Northside of Davie Street
Southside of Davie Street
Working around large trees and mounds doesn’t appear to be an issue either:
I am not sure if these artificial turf treatments are paid for by developers or Stratas in specific locations.  If someone could fill us in on what agreements are in place that would be much appreciated.  Cheers.


  1. I was just thinking about this weird turf treatment on the east side of Bute St south of Pender. It’s got to be a some minimal-coverage landscaping provision on a development application. There are no doubt passionate factions within the Buildings Department and Urban Design Panel about the best brand of turf.

      1. Such as either have that strip wide enough to have plants/trees or get rid of it. It’s a throwback to suburban boulevards you see all over Vancouver outside of downtown and they generally work fine. They do, cause they’re wide enough and don’t have as much traffic trampling them. Downtown, you should have more formal concrete or something with nice trees/tree grates.
        Astro turf is a ridiculous gimmick.

  2. I believe its stratas that have given up on trying to maintain the green that pay for it. Foot traffic in our muddy winters and a constant stream of dog urine make maintaining real grass in such a strip difficult.

    1. That is what happened with our strata. After years of annual reseeding, lots of watering, mowing, trimming, etc, they gave up. We now have fake grass. The cheap ones look like plastic, the expensive ones look pretty good. They aren’t environmental, and don’t pretend to be. They are just easier to maintain.

  3. On the west side of Hamilton between Robson and Smithe rubberized brick pattern mats have been installed (after many years of trying to grow grass).
    On the east side of Hamilton on the same block pebbly concrete was laid a number of years ago (also after attempts to grow grass failed).
    The rubberized brick pattern mats may trap dog urine – because the area stinks of urea / ammonia sometimes – I think it gets washed away when it rains.

  4. It’s painfully obvious that imposing skinny strips of grass on highly urbanized sidewalks is a misguided sop to “green.” It is totally ineffective and does not meet the obvious demand for more hard paving.
    Trees speak to “green” with orders of magnitude greater value and utility than any area of grass, from cleaning the air to addressing the urban heat island effect. In that light, the new street tree standard should progress to underground vaults to accommodate the roots and services. There are several products out there. Where sidewalks are wider, then larger cut-outs can be provided for trees and shrubs. A block with a continuous root vault will allow the trees to mature and establish a solid canopy very quickly and remain healthier because a huge volume of soil was provided below the paving. Moreover, the vaulting prevents — or helps minimize — the lifting of sidewalks by tree roots.
    On dense urban streets the areas that people walk should be paved. Let the difference be in paving design (please, no fake rubber bricks — developers can afford granite setts) and with ornamental tree grates, lighting and street furniture. The street will then attain a much loved character with an ever shadier planting of trees.
    The other notion is that somehow these pathetic little patches of mud (that’s what they are in winter) will somehow mitigate storm water runoff. Nothing is, in fact, more ineffective. There is no substitute for a good storm sewer system that is, hopefully, connected to a large artificial wetland downstream that performs all the vital functions of calming and filtering the water before it enters streams and rivers.

    1. Ha, yes. You said it better than I. Soil cells are used successfully all over the place and you can grow full sized trees in urban environments (assuming you water them!).

      1. The volumes of soil can be huge, and they will hold moisture for quite the time until transpiration pulls it out through the tree canopies. Strata cells and other products usually have watering ports for this purpose.
        To think the components are made from cheap recycled plastic and are basically snap-together, but have such beneficial results.

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