Forest City residents fed up with fake trees

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

What would you do if someone handed you a hideous, $200,000 15-foot tall present with sparse foliage of two-foot leaves in colours ranging from red to yellow to blue to lime green?

Chances are you would get rid of it immediately. But what if you couldn’t and you were forced to see it day in and day out? Such is the dilemma that many downtown Londoners were faced with when the City of London decided to place 84 metal trees throughout the downtown core last May.

Developer Andy Spriet and the London Downtown Business Association (LDBA) believe the metal trees are simply a part of the city’s efforts to promote public art in the core.

But many residents of the Forest City are complaining these “works of art” are eyesores, and the private donations that paid for the trees would have been better spent on planting and maintaining real trees " trees that clean the air and don’t hinder the beauty of downtown London.

At a time when environmental activism is gaining a lot of attention, it seems like an odd choice to erect fake trees. Art is meant to be controversial in order to create discussion. But wouldn’t it be more beneficial if London showed the same enthusiam in replenishing its dwindling forests as they do for putting up metal replicas? That would generate positive discussion, not complaints.

The controversy surrounding London’s artsy metal trees has branched into cyberspace. Petitions have sprung up on Facebook (http://uwo.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2507986243) urging the City of London to take down these monstrosities.

The LDBA, along with MainStreet and the London 150 committee gave the green light to the project. City council approval was not required because there were no tax dollars taken from the city and the trees will only occupy private property.

Given today’s concern over the environment and regardless of city council’s involvement, it would be a wise decision to replace these fake trees with real ones.

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