come from the land of the ice and snow... and cars


It is a mere technicality that winter does not officially begin until the 21st of December. I've always found that to be a bit ridiculous, because I've always lived places where autumn is fleeting and is almost always ended early with the abrupt arrival of the ice and snow. Of course what comes with all this ice and snow is the cold and an increasing dependence on the automobile. Even my ardent pedestrianism wanes when the temperature dips below -20. I find myself taking the train to work and happily accepting rides from friends when we are headed out in the evening.

But even during warmer times this city is autocentric. This was made painfully apparent to me the other night when Tom and I met after work for a little photo excursion downtown. We had been planning this for a few weeks as I had been so busy during the fall that I hadn't spent much time taking photos or visiting with the silver fox. Tom had been prowling about on his own recently, taking some fantastic night shots of the city and my jealousy was growing. So we arranged for a little evening shoot.

Our original plan had been to photograph the downtown library from the outside looking in, but we quickly became sidetracked by a visit to the the downtown parkade that Tom had photographed the week earlier.

It's kind of sad that such a huge swath of downtown is comprised of parkades or empty parking lots. It's no wonder that as soon as the business day is over that so much of activity is drained from the core. Prime real estate is taken over by parking, and in probably the unfriendliest ways ever. In most spots there is no commercial space on the street level and the parkades themselves are these brutalist concrete structures. And although I like photographing them for the architectural lines and to document the resulting sense of desertion when the automobiles leave for the day, I would rather that these parking areas at least try to serve dual purposes. Why can't they have more attractive facades and offer more commercial spaces on the ground level? Maybe some people might linger downtown a bit longer and allow downtown to have a bit more varied nightlife.

[insert Billy here]

Before Tom and I headed indoors to the meet the gentleman for dinner, I stood on the top level of the parkade I looked out at the office towers across the street. So many of the offices in these buildings must look down on the top level of that parkade and many of the adjacent parkades that are clustered within a few block radius. What a boring sight that must all be, the tops of vehicles and empty patches of concrete. I wonder how hard it would be to turn some of those top levels into green spaces, giving a space for people in those adjoining office towers and apartment buildings to go during their breaks or for a moment of fresh air. One would just have to make a way to link the sidewalk, perhaps with some sort of attractive stairway that led to the top.

unrecognizable cityscape

I don't know if such an idea would work, but it could be a way to make downtown's surplus of parkades into something more functional and interesting.