LETTER: City ‘cleans up’ Nelson’s alleys

From reader Tobias Jenny

One of Nelson’s least advertised attractions can be enjoyed when roaming the back alleys. Every year more beautiful and inspiring murals are being created, many of them in alleys. Nelson artist Karen Reynolds has painted many lovely views of places often as seen from the back alleys. Every year we find more beauty in the alleys as people are turning ugly weed patches into lovely flower beds.

In June we rescued a dozen healthy raspberry plants from a construction site. Inspired by the United Church boulevard garden and many alley gardens around town we decided to plant those raspberries against our fence in the alley and encouraged all who pass by to enjoy picking some.

Last week people living farther Uphill had a rude surprise. It looked like a bunch of vandals had come down the alleys. Blackberries ready to be harvested were razed down, hedges brutally chopped right to the fence line, trees trimmed without any apparent thought given to their health or survival, vegetable beds razed down with a weed whacker. All this happened without any warning that we were aware of.

July 24 was our alley’s turn. For some reason we were lucky, because the city workers told us they had to “clean up” the alleys. They were going to chop down all the raspberry plants (in prime season) and raze our flower bed. We were lucky they allowed us to dig out the berries and flowers as long as we did it by the evening.

The kind reader may imagine the spirited discussions that ensued in the neighbourhood. It was also interesting to observe that the ugly weeds that grow farther into the way of the garbage truck were left standing.

We understand alleys need to be accessible at all times. There shouldn’t be any impediments that make activities like garbage collection cumbersome or unsafe, but we are trying hard to make any sense out of timing, method and lack of effective advance communication. If the city would take as radical care of the noxious weeds that are growing all over public properties, we could understand the consistent approach to keep “order.”

Nelson is attracting many people who are inspired to visit or settle here by the creative whimsy. Are barren alleys with nothing but noxious weeds inspiring? Couldn’t those responsible for such destructive “orderliness” imagine beauty instead?

Tobias Jenny


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