January 19, 2022 (2 Minute Read)
The previous Brampton City Council approved a 6-lane expansion of Williams Parkway, which included a “noise” barrier wall. The barrier is now affectionately known as the linear “blue wall” of Brampton.
For homes located adjacent to Williams Parkway, the primary goal of the wall is to reduce the sound of traffic.
According to a staff report, back in the initial design stages of Williams Parkway, “…staff were asked to review opportunities for improving the aesthetics of the Williams Parkway corridor, with an architectural design on the noise wall as there was a constrained width of right of way and limited space for enhanced landscaping and streetscaping work.”
In other words, with the 6-lane expansion, staff originally indicated there was insufficient space for trees and landscaping to naturally hide the noise wall. As an alternative, they proposed an industrial blue-grey geometric design.
This blue wall was ultimately approved by the old Council, back in 2018. However, the design and colour options were considered only amongst staff, excluding any consultation with the community.
Then, during the construction of the blue wall, a number of residents complained about the industrial appearance of the linear structure. Councillor Rowena Santos, Council’s appointee to the Arts Culture and Creative Industry Development Agency (ACCIDA), has a solution to the complaints…a combination of trees and public art.
“This blue concrete is a blank canvas for artists who can turn an ugly duckling of a wall into a beautiful swan”– Councillor Santos
First, there was consensus to withdraw the approval to transform Williams Parkway into a six-lane road, as traffic studies deemed it unnecessary. However, the new Council could not put the brakes on the construction of the wall, as contracts were signed and construction was ongoing and almost completed.
The new Council then directed staff to consult with the local community to receive feedback on possible solutions to the “blue wall”.
Between October 22, 2021 and November 30, 2021, an online survey was available on the City website to solicit public comments. The following results were obtained:
|1||Status Quo – Leave Wall as Is||646||28%|
|2||Stain wall with warm grey and green colours||144||6%|
|3||Stain wall with neutral grey and dark grey colours||599||26%|
|4||Stain wall with warm grey and dark grey colours||173||8%|
|5||Featuring public art at intersections, high traffic areas and parts of the noise wall that will not be covered by tree plantings.||708||31%|
|No colour selected||29||1%|
|No option chosen||7||0|
Whereas, option 1 has no financial impact, options 2 to 5 would each cost $300,000.
Regardless of which option is selected, Council is assured that trees will be planted where space is available (especially in front of conservation lands and parks).
Councillor Rowena Santos prefers Options #5. Santos states, “This blue concrete is a blank canvas for artists who can turn an ugly duckling of a wall into a beautiful swan”, she continues, “Like Fire Station 211, this is an opportunity to showcase the talent and beauty of our city”.
Today, the decision on which option to select is before Council.
Vijai Kumar is an Advisory Panel Member on the Arts Culture and Creative Industry Development Agency (ACCIDA). He will be delegating to Council this morning in support of the public art option #5.
After approving $1 million towards Bowman’s Barn without any public input, it will be interesting to see if Council invests in a solution selected by the community itself. After all, some residents drive on Williams Parkway every day.
The Bramptonist will report the results of Council’s decision.