The London Downtown Business Association -- which exists only because membership dues are by law non-optional for downtown merchants -- plans to spend about $200,000 to install thirty wrought-iron tree sculptures throughout the core. One supposes that iron was chosen so as to produce a magnetic field powerful enough to pull tourists' wallets downtown by day and capture stray bullets by night. Given the symbolic richness of this plan, the obvious choice would have been brazen trees.
The brainchild of architect/developer Andy Spriet, and funded with $200,000 mostly from the London Downtown Business Association, it's part of the city's effort to promote public art in the core area.That $200,000 left in the hands of the merchants and their customers would presumably just have been wasted on stock and rent and wages. How does that benefit anybody important? How does that display our commitment to our arborial brothers and sisters, artificial or otherwise? After all, we are or at least were the Forest City, ages before we became Pothole City. If Londoners' contempt for other peoples' property extends from City Hall's skyrocketing taxes all the way down to youth forced by rising student debt to take their frustrations out on real saplings planted on downtown sidewalks, then it makes perfect sense to take money from those rich, greedy downtown merchants to pay somebody to replace natural growth in a healthy environment with a few shiny, highly visible ersatz stand-ins in an unlivable one. Trees can't survive downtown? Put fake ones in. Rough times for non-crack-related businesses? Sit back, pay up, and let Creative Cargo Culture do its work.
Coun. Cheryl Miller, who has long championed the core's revitalization, said the tree art could even draw more tourists.Wha? Haven't you heard, Cheryl? The John Labatt Centre already put us on the map. No, we're not bookmarked on Bono's GPS receiver yet like we were promised, but we're a big sloppy drool-coloured dot on the map of cities who re-elect council that spends $40 million up front and $4 million annually servicing debt so as to collect $150,000 a year from contractually unprofitable arenas.
The city is in the business of replacing natural growth with temporarily shiny, temporarily colourful metal replicas chosen and placed by committee. It's almost as if the LDBA were mocking its poor tributaries.