What the fungus is happening on Cambie Boulevard?

April 29, 2012 18 Comments »
What the fungus is happening on Cambie Boulevard?
You'd be forgiven for thinking this was a set from Alice in Wonderland

One of Vancouver's gateway thoroughfares is not making a strong first impression

We all know it's been a bit soggy over the last few months in Metro Vancouver. Daytime temperatures have rarely gone above the mid-teens and the clouds are hanging around longer than any of us would like. But who would have anticipated that all of this dreary weather would have transformed Vancouver's beloved Cambie Street Heritage Boulevard from an historic treasure into a veritable mushroom farm?

Over the last several week I've been driving by the boulevard and noticed it's been in very rough shape. That's mainly due to the fact that over the winter European chafer beetles have ravaged the grass on major sections south of 49th Ave. Instead of a grove of green in between the north and southbound lanes, the boulevard has now turned into an eyesore. It's not only unsightly, this stretch of public property has become home to some of the largest mushrooms I've seen growing in Vancouver in a long time. Some are as big as your fist.

Last Friday I decided to pull the car over and snap a few photos so everyone can see what I'm talking about. The photos clearly show a piece of public property in desperate need of some attention by Park Board staff.

Despite the fact there is lots of money for various "green" pet projects at City Hall lately, the politicians have apparently forgotten about the Cambie Heritage Boulevard. You'd think after chafer beetles caused so much destruction last year that somebody would have moved quickly on a plan to re-landscape this highly visible public space.

Removing the lawn all together and replanting it with other types of species might be a good first step. But don't count on it from a cash-strapped city government that clearly has higher priorities than keeping Vancouver's streets and greenspaces attractive. Who can forget the "meadow look" the Park Board signed off on last year.

After I started posting on Twitter some of the mushroom photos and video, I received some interesting reaction. Here are a few of the tweets:

@oakridge604 @Fontaine_D ya they aren't taking care of it. Must be a better solut'n. by marine it's really bad. 1st impression for a lot of ppl visiting

@AnthonyFloyd @Fontaine_D Isn't that just another CoV urban-agriculture project? Maybe they'll be harvested & sold at the Farmers Markets.

@Cogno @_Cuddlefish_ @fontaine_d @citycaucus Didn't I read recently that there are death cap mushrooms in Pt. Grey?

@_cuddlefish_ .@Fontaine_D @CityCaucus oh boy that looks like my front yard in Point Grey. For exactly the same reasons! #vanpoli

@teririch @Fontaine_D: If U walk around downtown U will notice that a portion of the city streets R a mess – patch worked but not properly repaired

There is absolutely no comparison to how the boulevards are maintained in Vancouver compared to other suburban cities. In my hometown of New Westminster (see photo on the right), it would be unthinkable to have local boulevards so covered in fungi that they could pass for a scene out of Alice in Wonderland.

It would hardly be worth discussing if it were only one patch of public property that looks bad, but Vancouver seems to have let many of its boulevards go to pot.

What do you think? Should the city just let them grow out of control? Or should city officials ensure that Vancouver's public boulevards are better maintained?

Here is a link to a Flickr photo set and a video clip below to help you make up your mind.

YouTube Preview Image



18 Comments

  1. Anon April 29, 2012 at 6:04 pm -

    Maybe it’s part of the urban food initiative. Those mushrooms with the big hoods are shaggy mane mushrooms and are quite tasty.

  2. Julia April 29, 2012 at 8:19 pm -

    Council is going to say – “we thought you did not want an increase in taxes” I call it bait and switch. Council priorities got the money but nobody said at the expense of boulevards and other green space owned by the city.

  3. Rania April 29, 2012 at 11:53 pm -

    I bet that if it was a bike lane, it would have great care and attention.
    R

  4. Glissando Remmy April 30, 2012 at 12:24 am -

    Thought of the Night

    “Vision are simply showing the Fungus… parasitic courtesy.”

    But, don’t quote me on that! :-)

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  5. Don Watters April 30, 2012 at 8:11 am -

    Traveling the Cambie corridor for the past 40+ years, I have noticed the ongoing deteriorization of what used to be a prize piece of Vancouver.
    The worst has happened since the Canada Line
    appeared along the strip.
    Trees that were replaced after construction appear to be dead or dying. The turf is in terrible condition in many areas along the corridor.
    The same situation appears along King Edward from Granville to west of Dunbar.
    West 16th from Trafalgar to Dunbar isn’t much better.

    3 million dollar bike lanes – left nothing for the Parks Board to maintain the Boulevards ????????

  6. Bill McCreery April 30, 2012 at 9:26 am -

    Don’t count on it Rania, have you looked at another Vision Vancouver eyesore lately, the derelict Hornby bike lane planters are a world class embarrassment.

    I wonder what seeing such shambles all over the City does to the well deserved pride that Vancouver Park Board staff have alway had in their work?

  7. Julia April 30, 2012 at 10:19 am -

    I can never understand why grass boulevards and vegetation are planted in public spaces (especially commercial areas) if there is no budget or staff to maintain it. I guess some green fairy is supposed to come along and look after it.

    • boohoo April 30, 2012 at 11:32 am -

      Boulevards are the responsibility of the homeowner/business/strata to maintain.

      Special cases like the Cambie median are the City, but the vast majority of them in the City are not the City’s responsibility.

      But, for argument’s sake, let’s say they have no maintenance money–what do you do? Pave it?

      • Julia April 30, 2012 at 10:42 pm -

        yes, boulevards are the responsibility of homeowners. What about the miles and miles of boulevard that are in commercial districts or on ceremonial streets like Cambie or 25th. What about the thousands of dollars that were spent at the north end of the Oak Street bridge. It is disgusting. Honestly, I think I would prefer cement than obvious neglect.

        We have built a tourism industry around our landscape. Let’s just throw all that equity in the dumpster.

        • boohoo April 30, 2012 at 11:25 pm -

          As far as I know commercial frontage is the responsibilty of the business/strata, same as resdential. The only one I’m not sure of is Cambie, King Ed, and blvds like that.

      • rf May 3, 2012 at 2:18 pm -

        artificial turf has come a very long way. Some of the stuff looks, and feels, very real nowadays.

  8. Max April 30, 2012 at 11:58 am -

    How is it that the city can be handing out $1,000 green grants, yet can’t find the $$ to maintain the boulevards, streets, parks etc?

    Don’t even get me started about the ongoing detereoration of the Burrard Street Bridge.

    I wandered around the Oly Village area a few weeks back, there is a kid’s playground that is a complete mess.

    The city collected $48 million in parking fees, is handing $7 M over to all things bikes and the rest is going to ‘green projects’ How the hell does that make sense?

    • Glissando Remmy April 30, 2012 at 12:39 pm -

      The Thought of The Day

      “These days, Vancouver City Hall’s “Mad Hatter” behavior, could only be seen through the eyes of Alice… in Wonderland!”

      Alice said it first, Max:
      ‘It would be so nice if something would make sense for a change.’ ” :-)

      Alice also said: “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary-wise; what it is it wouldn’t be, and what it wouldn’t be, it would.”

      You see?

      To which the Mad Hatter, replied:
      “Twinkle, twinkle, little bat! How I wonder what you’re at.” QED.

      Do you want me to tell you Vancouver’s shortest joke, ever?
      Are you ready? Alright then… “City Hall!”

      We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  9. Bill Lee April 30, 2012 at 5:29 pm -

    Compare Dunbar and 16th or Dunbar and 25th boulevards and the crap flowers that sprout their every weekend by grace of local residents.

    Dunbar/Point Grey keep culture in the fridge with their yoghurt and Velveeta.

  10. Everyman April 30, 2012 at 6:36 pm -

    Constance Barnes and her Vision cohorts should be ashamed at the disgusting condition of the city’s main ceremonial North-South boulevard. The European chafer beetle has created havoc on it, and I suppose Vision is too “green” to do anything to fight it. They could try nematodes. And there should be sprinklers in place to keep it from becoming brown sagebrush every summer, but of course the mayor has bought into the fallacy there is some sort of water shortage in Vancouver. It make a very poor first impression for all those cruise ship passengers arriving by bus,

    • Ned April 30, 2012 at 7:12 pm -

      Yes, but “Constance Barnes and her Vision cohorts” were all over the place at the Emery Barnes park opening, the other day. Taking credit for what her dad did for this province and them taking credit for what NPA and previous staff planned for this city in that square block. Hillbillies!

  11. Inside The City May 1, 2012 at 8:14 pm -

    If the people only knew what was going on internally with how their money was being wasted. It makes me sick that I cannot do my job the way it should be done because of the micro managing. The tax payers of the once great City of Vancouver better wake up before its too late. Walk the city streets check out the sidewalks the potholes in the lanes and streets.They are only getting worse by the day and you the public are being told there is no money.. Ask where its being spent?

    • Bill McCreery May 1, 2012 at 11:22 pm -

      @ In-City, if the truth is to come out, Joe public needs some inside help. Specifics, facts, documents, brown envelopes. Agreed, what is going on behind closed doors is damaging, demoralizing and damning. Hard evidence will at the least communicate to the broader public what is in fact happening, and where the spending is and is not occurring in an “open and transparent” manner, or it may reveal something more.