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Farewell to Alexandra Road
We have had the privilege to live on Alexandra Road between Garden City and No. 4 Road for almost seven years.
Our former landlord sold our rental property to Polygon and we were able to continue renting from Polygon. But we have now gotten notice and need to move by the end of January.
Thus it is with mixed feelings we are preparing to leave this unique street in Richmond. We and our next door neighbours (whose house is also being torn down) have had the privilege of having the most amazing “backyard.” From our kitchen windows it was hard to believe we live in the city, with the nothing between us and Odlin except the old pasture that we were told our former landlord used to have cattle on and the most amazing strand of trees where eagles, hawks and occasionally owls would roost. It was like living in the country in the middle of the city.
Then there was the actual narrow street with all the trees and wild growth, so that when you walk down the street you feel like you left the city for a brief time.
As I walked down the street, I got to know all my neighbours and we all got know each other, even the homeless who squatted in the empty properties. A real sense of community developed as we all watched the gradual erosion of all that made this street so unique. One by one, we have watched neighbours leaving and their houses being torn down, while those of us left have gotten closer together and this informal community is an integral part of helping each other out.
With all the controversy regarding the Walmart development, we watched with, I’m sad to say, cynicism because we have seen what development has already done to this street. I think we knew that development would always triumph over a few strand of trees and that it would be a losing battle. The irony of this is that before the development begins the city marks trees which must be saved. Then a company spends several days fencing the trees. What a farce, for example, where all the new townhouses were built by No. 4 Road, all the trees that were fenced are gone. They saved only one tree in the complex; it reminds me of a museum where future generations will be able to come and see what an old growth tree looked like in Richmond. The wonderful strand of trees in our backyard and a tree in our front yard is now all fenced but if I would be a betting person, I would bet that in six months they will no longer exist, so why put all this effort into a losing cause?
The sad result of all the development is that all the good parts of living on this street as mentioned above will be gone and only the negative parts will remain. The cargo planes that roar over the house at night, the constant traffic noise, which is somewhat muffled now by the trees and but will only intensify with the high density development of the apartments and the Walmart shopping center, the air pollution from the planes and cars will also increase with no trees to absorb it.
And the sad part is another community in Richmond that will not know their neighbours.
So we are looking for another place to rent, which is daunting given the cost of renting in Richmond, (if you know an affordable place, please let us know). But we are not the only ones who are looking for a new home; I wonder where the barn swallows that have a nest on our porch and have raised a family there for the past four years will go when they return this year.
It was a privilege to be allowed to be part of watching them at such a close range, from the egg laying to the feeding of the young, to the first tentative flights from the nest and when they finally all leave we feel blessed to have watched this little microcosm of nature unfold so close to us.