Trees and grasses part of downtown plan

Phase 2 of Trail's downtown revitalization to include ornamental grasses, flowering seedlings and maple trees.

Instead of downtown Trail’s makeover being hidden under grey concrete and pavement, this time around, passersby will start to see the changes in colourful growth above the soil.

Graceful shapes of ornamental grasses, flowering seedlings and Canada’s mightiest symbol, the maple tree, could sprout new life into the city during the second leg of Trail’s downtown revitalization plan this summer.

Trail council committed $715,000 this year to move forward with the multi-year downtown project following 2013 upgrades to drainage systems, curbs and sidewalks along the Victoria Street corridor.

To advance the city’s greening theme, $272,000 has been earmarked for landscaping which includes tree planting, shrubs, grasses and perennials, upkeep for existing vegetation and further points of irrigation.

The process of choosing city landscape was multifaceted, with consideration given to sustainability, water conservation and the difficult seasonal growing conditions along the major artery through Trail.

Snow clearing, snow dumping and use of salt on pavement during the winter months, are all barriers associated with planting in urban conditions, according to the plan’s landscape architect.

David James, of the Kelowna-based MMM Group Ltd., collaborated with the city to come up with a contemporary landscape design that would easily acclimate to Trail’s cold and wet winter and hot, arid summers.

“What we’ve picked is very interesting,” said James.

“Especially when trying to fit plants that will have a certain appeal with esthetic colours and able to take on seasonal characteristics and celebration.”

Wispy ornamental grasses are drought tolerant, establish quickly and provide an immediate visual appeal, he explained.

“There is striking colours, deep red as a theme with the gateway features,” James noted. “There is a wispy kind of quality that is animated with wind, which gives a lot more visual interest in terms of texture and colour.”

Two tree varieties will be introduced into the downtown landscape to provide greenery and year-round colour.

“One is a maple tree that will have a very light red fall colour,” said James. “We picked that because of the narrow constraints of the site.

We needed to pick a tree that would grow tall but wouldn’t grow out very wide.”

The maples will be planted in the stretch along Victoria Street between Bay and Cedar avenues, adding visual impact, detail at the pedestrian level, and screen the parking lot adjacent to the Trail Memorial Centre.

Additionally, flowering ornamental trees will be planted in the Gerick Cycle& Sports plaza on Rossland Avenue, at the intersection near the bottom of Glover Road and at the front entrance of the sports facility.

“Besides being practical, the ornamental trees have flowers associated with spring and again the maple will add colour to the fall,” added James.