Main Street Markham

Location: Markham, Ontario

The City of Markham wanted to transform the vehicular dominated Main Street to one that better supported commercial activities. A strategy to accomplish this goal was the establishment incorporating healthy street trees to offer an inviting restoration to the streetscape and attract pedestrians to the area’s restaurants and shops.

With existing traffic volumes warranting the widening of certain sections of the street to four lanes, the challenge was accomplishing this while still allowing for healthy street tree growth.

The City’s goal was to incorporate engineered treepits along both sides of the main street. But in order to accommodate for the lane expansion requirements that the road warranted, the tree pit systems needed to flow from the sidewalk boulevard out under the roadway. However, because of the implications and structural requirements of road construction, this is usually a huge challenge to encounter that often results in the improper planting of trees in compacted soil or the altogether removal of street trees from the plans.

The only way to provide the uncompacted soil volume that the trees needed and still offer the load-bearing requirements dictated for the roadway, was with the use of the GreenBlue Stratacell system. The Stratacell is the strongest soil support module in the industry, and with it the engineer responsible was able to approve the extension of the designated tree pit root space past the sidewalk curb and out under the road with only a minimal pavement surface above. This provided the soil volume necessary for the healthy growth of the trees.

Not only was the Stratacell system used past the curb and out under the road, it was actually continued all the way across the street in order to link with the treepits on the adjacent side. Sally Campbell, the urban designer from the City of Markham, explained that “the structural integrity of the Stratacell system to sustain heavy loads supported by solid technical evidence, coupled with a comprehensive range of components to suit each situation appealed to them and drove them to choose GreenBlue over the competitor.”

Dan Foong, the Project Manager, commented that they decided on with ArborSystem because it offered a complete system, including soil cells, root management, irrigation, and tree grates. “With other soil cell systems, we would still need to purchase all of the ancillary items.”

The city knew that in order for the trees to sustain their growth potential and provide the most benefits, they needed as much root space as possible. With the anticipation that the available area for trees in the boulevards and bump-outs along Main Street would be crowded with above and belowground utilities and infrastructure, the city realized that an innovative solution to provide sufficient soil volume was the only way to achieve the desired results. “Having explored alternative methods of achieving the necessary soil volume, including an in-house tree pit design, as well as other cell products,” Campbell explained, “we saw benefits of the comprehensive system offered by GreenBlue and opted for their products.”