The area of Water Street south, beside the No Frills grocery store in downtown Peterborough, has been described by locals as a “road to nowhere.”
Now the section of roadway is being transformed. Hailed as the largest Depave Paradise project in Canada, it’s the first project to dig up a roadway and turn it into a green space.
“The asphalt was definitely a lot thicker than we anticipated,” said Dawn Pond, the Depave Paradise and Vibrancy Project coordinator with Peterborough Green-Up.
Other sites have turned parking lots or unused driveways into green spaces, but this is the first community initiative to dig up a section of road and turn it back into a park-like setting.
“It’s about bringing attention to why green spaces are important to our urban environment,” said Pond. “It’s about community and getting people involved and getting their hands in the soil.
The Depave Paradise initiative is part of the Vibrancy Project, spearheaded by the Downtown Business Improvement Area and Peterborough Green-Up.
Several other community agencies and businesses are also stepping up to support the cause and lending their time and energy.
Once completed, the new urban park will help connect two of the city’s most popular riverfront green spaces.
“This is a huge area that links Del Crary Park to the downtown, and in a lot of ways was a missing link between a lot of our civic spaces,” said local architect and Vibrancy Project chair Michael Gallant. “This urban space was kind of neglected and it’s exciting to see the community rally together and turn it around.”
WATCH: Protecting green space in Saint-Lazare
The roundabout roadway is now cleared of all asphalt, and on Saturday, more than 40 native trees, plants, and shrubs were planted by community volunteers. When complete, the green space will measure more than 700 square metres and will help protect the Otonabee River, which sits adjacent to the new park.
“By adding more green spaces we can filter the water slowly through the soil and protect our waterways from urban pollution,” said Pond.
The Depave Paradise project is looking for a new site to restore.
Organizers are asking the public for suggestions.