What is happening to Lantzville and what do we do?
I think that it’s fair to say that most people in Lantzville are horrified with the recent tree removal in both upper and lower Lantzville. Looking through posts on the LCN FaceBook group page shows a wide variety of reactions including anger, disbelief, deep sadness, and despair from both adults and children. Rough estimates place the area affected at around 188 acres, a large area which is very visible to people in both upper and lower Lantzville.
This sense of loss runs deep as we are all used to having these wonderful belts of forested areas which host a diverse mix of animals including bear, deer, owls, countless birds and insects. We are deeply connected to nature and rely on it for our air, water and food.
Let me explain. From my perspective, I’ve been involved with the landscape and land design industry for 30+ (yikes) years. I have seen and learned much in my time working in large park systems (Stanley Park, Windsor Great Park 10,000+ acres). I’ve operated a landscape design and construction firm (Jaan Designs) since arriving in Lantzville over 20 years ago. In the past five years we have shifted our business to one of a regenerative land design approach and have adopted Permaculture as part of this. If you’re interested in learning more about permaculture you can check out this YouTube video that was presented by a colleague and friend Rob Avis.
What many people may not realize is that trees play a huge role in our water cycle, their roots go deep into our soils and help hold soils together as well as acting as giant sponges holding water and nutrients that would otherwise pass through our community.
A small example of this can be explained with a simple calculation. In an average rainfall year we have approximately 1165 mm of rain fall on our community. These forested areas would absorb and hold most of this. Without trees present we can now expect that approximately 233,000,000 gallons of water will now be subject to run-off and erosion. That is significant and it will have a serious impact on the amount of water which returns to our aquifer, a concern for all, especially those on wells.
I think it’s important to make a distinction here, just because most people are horrified with this recent logging (we won’t talk about the appropriateness of industrial logging in a residential area) doesn’t mean that they are opposed to development.
I see some comments on Facebook that describe some of the frustration that the developer has had with his/her dealings with the District of Lantzville. At this stage I don’t think it is necessary to justify this corporation’s actions. It’s obvious that these actions have hurt the residents within Lantzville and it’s up to us to move forward.
Humans in 2018 are at a place in this world where we can have a huge impact on our environment, this can be either negative or it can also be very positive. So how do we move forward in this time?
I would suggest that instead of ‘taking up arms’ that we consider looking at our community as a whole and discuss what we can do to improve our own situations. We have no control over what a developer or even your neighbours do within their property boundaries, but we do have control over how we react and how we live within our own lands. Perhaps we need to start planting some trees to help replace this lost habitat.
I’m hoping that this terrible event, which I’m hoping is over, will prompt people to look at how they want their community to look. Should we have some guidelines or best practices for both residence and developers? Should land owners be rewarded for retaining significant stands of trees? How might that look?
It’s possible to have your cake and eat it too. We can have human habitat and a thriving ecosystem around us. It’s just up to us to move this forward. There are many examples of this around the world, one place being Davis in California.
Here are some short videos of the development.
Street image of Village Homes-Davis, California
Thirty years ago a number of progressive thinkers put together that 70 acre development and today it is still a sought after place for families to live. Village Homes development included such features as follows.
Orientation — All streets tend east-west and all lots are oriented north-south. This orientation (which has become standard practice in Davis and elsewhere) helps the houses with passive solar designs make full use of the sun’s energy.
Street Width — Roads are all narrow, curving cul-de-sacs less than twenty-five feet wide and generally not bordered by sidewalks. Their narrow widths minimize the amount of pavement exposed to sun in the long, hot summers. The curving lines of the roads give them the look of village lanes, and the few cars that venture into the cul-de-sacs usually travel slowly.
Pedestrian/Bike Paths and Common Areas — Alternating with the streets is an extensive system of pedestrian/bike paths, running through common areas that exhibit a variety of landscaping, garden areas, play structures, statuary, and so on. Most houses face these common areas rather than the streets, so that emphasis in the village is on pedestrian and bike travel rather than cars.
Natural Drainage — The common areas also contain Village Homes’ innovative natural drainage system: a network of creek beds, swales, and pond areas that allow rainwater to be absorbed into the ground rather than carried away through storm drains. Besides helping to store moisture in the soil, this system provides a visually interesting backdrop for landscape design.
Edible Landscaping — Fruit and nut trees and vineyards form a large element of the landscaping in Village Homes and contribute significantly to the provender of residents. More than thirty varieties of fruit trees were originally planted, and as a result some fruit is ripe and ready to eat nearly every month of the year.
Open Land — In addition to the common areas between homes, Village Homes also includes two big parks, extensive greenbelts with pedestrian/bike paths, two vineyards, several orchards, and two large common gardening areas. The commonly owned open land comes to 40 percent of the total acreage (25 percent in greenbelts and 15 percent in common areas), a much greater proportion than in most suburban developments. Thirteen percent of the developed land area is devoted to streets and parking bays, and the remaining 47 percent to private lots, which generally include an enclosed private yard or courtyard on the street side of the house.
Pathway image of Village Homes-Davis, California
Surely with all of our intelligence and technology we can move towards developments that are good for both the people living there and the environment around it. After all our environment is responsible for our clean air, lovely water and our food and shelter. We have local consultants who have the abilities to create these types of developments, Jack Anderson of Greenplan is one such person.
Jamie Wallace is a Regenerative Landscape Designer living on acreage in Lantzville with his wife Angela and parents Connie and Frank, and lets not forget Max his dog.