Concrete production is one of the greatest greenhouse gas emitters The great expanses of solid surfaces in roads, parking lots, and sidewalks greatly increase rates of water run-off, impacting groundwater, streams, and near-shore ecosystems. Paving over nature also removed it, of course. A greener city includes more green, less grey concrete or black pavement. In BC, we already have several places where wooden walkways are in use in artistically pleasing and practical ways, placed with the intention of creating a lighter footprint. Is it absolutely essential that every sidewalk in Vancouver be made of concrete? As a start, I advocate a return to wooden sidewalks where possible (especially on side streets and in parks), to benefit the environment, to create a more uniquely Pacific Northwest city, and to provide ongoing jobs for BC's forest industry workers and tradespeople. Eventually we might replace parking lots and roads with more porous options.
Some old methods should be revisited, I think.
Cities are nothing but hard surfaces. They don't absorb water, they drain it - and quickly. Rapid run-off is a problem, as is failure to replenish subsurface water.
Considering that Vancouver exists in a rainforest climate, this city has a great opportunity to showcase to the world many types of rainfall management techniques, and which may reduce human impact on the ecosystem.
@Tax Free There are many examples of porous surfaces which don't create mudscapes. I'm suggesting that some sidewalks be wooden, not all. Certainly, all those side-streets really don't need impervious concrete.
Concrete is supposedly more cost-efficient in the long run, as maintenance costs are low. The cost to the environment though is high. There may be innovative ways to treat wood which increase its lifetime / durability / fire-resistance, while retaining its natural character.
@CH Trees can be a wisely-managed renewable resource (although they aren't yet in BC). Where do you think concrete comes from? Talk about destroying a landscape! As for carbon cost, trees are relatively local, and their growth captures carbon. Logging and transportation costs may be reduced significantly through using different methods. As for maintenance costs, what's wrong with local job creation? What's wrong with making wood products in BC instead of shipping raw logs around the world as we do now? Perhaps an analysis of the numbers might show it economically feasible, even beneficial. Certainly there are wooden walkways being used in parks already which are proving relatively low maintenance and low cost while protecting the natural health and ambience of the park.
Cities are rigid, controlling, inhumane contrivances derived to beat nature into submission. Grid design is unnatural, doesn't relate to the natural flow of a terrain or even human travel patterns. I think redesign of whole neighbourhoods (as done historically in places like Paris), incorporating winding wooden sidewalks among forest and dwellings, would create a much more appropriate way to live in our local landscape and ecosystem than is done now.
I envision, for example, a neighbourhood like the West End a completely road- and vehicle-free place, a collection of tree-house-like apartment structures replacing the current box towers, interspersed among and rising slightly above a thriving forest similar to Stanley Park, with a meandering electric LRT (or even tree-top gondolas) and wooden paths for transport, essential services and shopping located underground (as in downtown Toronto).
Tax Free commented
Sounds like some people want to live back in the days of the Wild West. Horses for transportation wooden sidewalks and muck everywhere when it rains. If you really want wooden sidewalks get a petition going with your neighbors.
Perhaps I'm not seeing the big picture here but it strikes me that destroying more trees to pave our streets sounds a little like robbing Peter to pay Paul.
The carbon cost of logging and transportation of lumber is already high, long before the actual work of laying the sidewalk. Then you have to factor in the higher maintenance costs (wood is less robust, more prone to rot, damage, erosion etc.).