Me and my canopy

Me and my canopy

¡Ola! Glad to be home. I notice that City Hall was busy with announcements while I was away. Among them: David Miller wants to nearly double the city’s tree canopy in 13 years. The city’s chief forester says it’ll probably take more like 100 years. Here’s an out-of-the-blue suggestion that could help bridge the gap.

Vines. Ivy. You know—the stuff that crawls up walls. Grow ivy up the sides of police stations, fire stations, and other city-owned buildings. Mandate that they be grown on private property too.

I admit I’m stealing this idea from a guy in Montreal, a one-man ivy lobby-group whom I met about ten years ago. He wanted to cover Montreal in the stuff. He was particularly keen to grow it on industrial sites. Especially smokestacks. Growing ivy up a smokestack was his environmentalist’s equivalent of that classic peacenik manoeuvre, dropping a daisy down the barrel of a gun. He believed that, while green roofs were a fine new idea, mankind had been greening walls for years, and—unlike rooftops—most walls in existence were structurally sound enough to support a crawling plant. So why spend millions innovating with rooftops when you can just borrow an old idea on the cheap?

Ivy doesn’t offer as much shade as a tree, but it doesn’t need as much space to grow either. And the areas of the city that most need greening are the ones with no space for trees. Think of it: ivy growing up the Gardiner’s concrete pillars, covering the back side of the Four Seasons Opera House, or colonizing the concrete-slabbed backsides of City Hall’s two curved towers.

What Toronto surface do you think would be ideal for crawling vines? Write me: