A blueprint for renewal
Point Pleasant Park is healthier now than before it was hit by Hurricane Juan. Years of poor silvicultural maintenance, and constant withdrawal of organic material had left the park with weak forest, poor soils, and little biodiversity. Despite the devastation and loss of much-appreciated scenery, a traumatic event has created an opportunity for renewal.
As a metropolitan recreational space and peripheral woodland, Point Pleasant Park requires a management strategy that encompasses both urban park maintenance and forestry science. Currently, one finds mostly undifferentiated forested space of unspecified use in the park. The potential for shaping public space remains unexplored.
Given the compromising effect of human usage on biodiversity, a clearly defined public realm is the best guarantee for undisturbed re-growth. Protected areas for ecosystem regeneration need to be balanced by highly differentiated recreational space.
Natural regeneration is already taking place in the park. This observation leads us to favour minimal intervention in this process, solely to protect and enhance bio-diversity. As a counterpoint to this essentially responsive approach, the land is etched to reveal boundaries and thresholds between culture and nature, and hold places to view the evolving landscape. Markers gauge the ebb and flow of natural regeneration and witness the passage of time.
In its simplest form, the marker is a dead tree left standing. Stained indigo blue, it is a testament to the devastation of 2003. As the natural stain is bleached by sun and wind, and the wood burrowed by insects, the panorama of blue trunks gradually fades into new growth, as does the memory of natural disaster.
Here is a detailed description of the actions to be taken from the beginning of our intervention to fifty years later.
Assess the current condition of the forest trees. Identify standing dead trees and stain with natural blue pigment.
Monitor the natural regeneration already vigorous along Cambridge Drive (red maple, oak, spruce), and in smaller pockets (pin cherry, rasberry, poplar, beech) elsewhere in the park. Chart the extent of wetland regeneration and concurrent increases in biodiversity.
Close non-essential paths. Establish clear boundaries to discourage pedestrian traffic in regenerating zones. Incoporate stone borders along paths to contain human use and control erosion. Introduce signage to orient the public and interpret the regeneration process.
Plant hedgerows to increase connectivity between surviving vegetation patches along Pine and Heather Roads. Plant structurally complex hedgerows consisting of red maple, spruce, mountain ash and amelanchier species, which are already regenerating on site.
Plant fruit-producing species to attract birds, which in turn disperse seeds and act as catalysts for regeneration elsewhere in the park. The bands of hedgerows act as travel lanes, foraging areas, and protection for birds and other wildlife. They provide protection from the elements, as well as contributing to the intimacy of certain park spaces. Protect emerging wetlands.
Allow seaside grasses to grow 30 centimeters before mowing, to enhance bio-diversity. Provide clipped patches and paths to define areas for recreational use within the diversified natural prairie.
Year 2 to 5
Plant 1) white birch forest along the Prince of Wales Drive and 2) a pine and heather stand above the Shore Road. White birch is planted where a birch stand used to grow. It provides autumn and winter visual interest. Pine, planted in conjunction with rosa rugosa and heather, provides shelter from ocean winds, yet allows for outward views from Heather road.
Redesign entrances to the park. Plant pin cherry to create enclosure and for spring interest. Propose an integrated bench which incorporates a recycling bin and an interpretive panel unit. These designed elements become important meeting areas.
Integrate user information into signage/furniture elements. Panels document the evolution of the park and highlight various aspects of its stewarded renewal.
Implement water clean-up in preparation for future use of Black Rock Beach for bathing purposes.
Year 5 to 20
Redesign parking lots with porous surfaces, interspersed trees, and demarcated pedestrian lanes.
Construct the Black Rock Beach entrance pavilion and pier, including washroom facilities and restaurant. In its transparency and accessible roof, the pavillion operates as both buffer between beach and container pier, and viewing device to interpret the industrial landscape beyond.
Create small-scale intimate spaces: wetland area platforms and private "nooks" enclosed by hedge or prairie. At Fort Ogilvie, create intimate garden spaces for horticultural display, in the tradition of the English garden.
Year 20 to 50
Adopt a silvicultural plan based on stand education and regular sanitation cuts rather than on puncual interventions every 10 to 15 years. These micro-interventions serve to rejuvenate the mature forest and encourage the dynamic biological processes flowing throughout the park. Over a fifty-year period, pursue plans to link the park with other green spaces in the greater Halifax area. Bio-diversity can be enhanced by creating a wildlife corridor along the rail line which comes to the park from the North. (Catalyse Urbaine, architecture et paysages)
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