Museum plan lacked consultation

Re: Nature museum plans living gallery, p. 16, March 3)


Regrettably, the article reads like a light re-write of a museum of nature press release. 


Museum director of marketing and media relations John Swettenham is quoted asserting: “We did a good job with that,” with reference to the imposition of a parking lot on a green space that had been available for public use for more than 100 years. 


Nothing could be further from the truth. 


Rather, with little advance notice or consultation, the museum erected a fence and cut off public access for a number of years during a renovation project, using the area as a construction site yard, thus destroying the heritage ground cover and public amenities completely, as well as obstructing a major pedestrian route to the downtown. 


Then, when the museum renovation was completed, word leaked out that the pocket park would be sacrificed to accommodate a revenue-generating parking lot, prompting a public outcry and a well-attended protest demonstration held at the site on Dec. 4, 2011. 


While the parking lot plan was slightly scaled back, the amenities for passive enjoyment of what remains of this precious downtown oasis (i.e., lighting, benches) were never restored and the pedestrian passageway was not reinstated. 


Instead, a formal, rigidly structured tourist attraction will replace a simple green escape hatch enjoyed by several generations of Centretown residents and visitors. 


Undoubtedly picknicking and tossing a ball around will be discouraged by security guards patrolling this new “gallery” and access will be fenced-off in the winter.

Bill Kretzel,


Fifth Avenue