The ironic structure

Every year that there are still some trees growing on the imaginatively named Lot 1/ Lot 9, I have the occasion to write a letter. This one might well be the last.

Despite continually slapping oursleves on the back over how good we are at the game of sustainability, even travelling to communities around the world to share our expertise at living in concert with the laws of nature, we’re planning to cut down every tree on the last 4.5 acres of forested land in the village.

In the same breath that the hired consultant told us at the Oct. 18 th open house that the over-riding community directive for developing Lot1/9 was to maintain a connection to the habitat and nature, and to “preserve some of the context,” (ie: forest), she quickly added that all of the trees would have to be cut down.

One would think that with all of the creativity and expertise in our town we could find a way to build all of the needed community amenities on the property, even the Olympic medals plaza, while keeping some of that natural habitat — perhaps some islands of healthy trees or a corridor of forest connecting Village Park with the spruce forest across from the medical centre. But instead, all of our creativity and enthusiasm seems to have been sucked into the model of the $18 million skating roof that will leave the viewer with, you guessed it, the impression of a West Coast forest.

I’m all for a covered outdoor rink, especially one that you can also play a game of hockey on, but perhaps a post and beam cedar roof surrounded by some real trees (the ones that are probably 90 years old and already growing there) would also achieve the impression of a west coast forest, and with a much lower price tag.

This is the location where we’ll be showing some three billion viewers what we’re all about in 2010. Let’s show them that in the last four decades of rapidly developing this valley, we’ve learned something about building with respect for the natural environment. That was what the community asked for on Lot1/9, not an icon that, beautiful piece of architecture though it is, will attempt to emulate the natural habitat it displaces.

There is the argument that this is just a tiny scrap of forest in a town surrounded by the stuff. The same could be said of Stanley Park in Vancouver, but I don’t see them logging their forested urban park to make room for a medals plaza.

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