This guerrilla art is tucked behind the fence of our neighbourhood’s less than heavenly 7-eleven. The artist has perfectly captured what most people here really think of the store: it stinks.
Here’s the context behind the art work. Once upon a time that corner belonged to a family that ran a florist’s shop. When they retired a developer bought the property. He decided it would make a great convenience store and gas station. His plan was strongly opposed by all three neighbourhood associations that border the area. Unfortunately we were unable to stop the development and we are now approaching its first anniversary.
What is the problem? My major complaint is that the gas station is placed directly next to a creek. I haven’t measured the distance but the 14 feet referred to in the painting seems a reasonable estimate of just how close that gas station is to the creek bank. I probably don’t need to explain why having a gas station bordering a creek is a bad idea. Its existence is an insult.
But I swear the developers tried to make the project as environmentally unfriendly as possible. They spent weeks pushing the earth into a steep hill. Then they covered it in concrete. As a result, the steep impervious surface is like a water-slide for rainwater.
Where does the water go? Any Pre-K kid playing at the water table can answer that one. Water always flows to the lowest point. The lowest point on that property is a sluice that feeds directly into the creek. And the thing about living in a subtropical place is that when it rains it doesn’t get all misty — the water falls from the skies in a torrent. If you’ve ever stood under a waterfall you’ll understand what I am trying to describe. That much water causes all the debris and hydrocarbon pollutants that pile up to rush into the creek.
Your mileage may vary but I prefer my drinking water to be free of hydrocarbons. Even more distasteful is imagining how the fish and tadpoles must feel having to swim in that crap.
Here’s another story that illustrates this store’s complete disregard for place and neighbourhood. A heritage tree used to grow on that property. Time and again it was abused during the convenience store’s construction. The City Arborist had to visit the site repeatedly because of the violations. Not surprisingly, that tree died shortly before the store even opened. The person responsible made some talk about ‘replacing’ it but even that token failed to materialize. I am guessing that he eventually decided that writing a cheque for the small fine was easier.
Just how tone deaf was the developer to the community’s concerns? He sent a crew of workers to cut that tree down and remove it on Earth Day Weekend 2014. Really. Maybe he thought we wouldn’t notice because we were all at the Mueller Greenbelt celebrating the holiday!
The community wasn’t going all NIMBY or being precious. We already have a number of gas stations on various corners. Our point was that adding another gas station simply offered no positive benefit for the community. We assumed we’d see more of those gigantic delivery trucks passing through the neighbourhood. We were right. And yes, soon after it opened there was a robbery because that is the kind of thing that happens to 7-elevens.
Besides the increase in dangerous traffic and the threat of violent crime, I really wanted the developer to explain why we should welcome more junk food and litter into our lives. I don’t know about you but I already have enough. Thanks anyway.
How much money has the owner made adding yet another source of pollution to our air, water and soil? When he pays his school tax does he have to add a little extra to offset the cost of tempting our children to eat food that slowly poisons their minds and bodies? Any system that allows one guy to make a lot of money at an entire community’s expense is broken. As the painting suggests: this kind of capitalism really stinks. You can’t just pinch your nose or bury it in a handkerchief — a gas mask is necessary to ignore this level of ugliness.
I don’t know the artist’s name but I did want to say thank you to whoever painted this.
There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke …
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.
This Earth Day I’d like to do something to commemorate that heritage tree’s death but I’m still at the brainstorming stage. Anyone have a bright idea?