Franke’s Dream for a Green Driveway

Photo of Franke James by Lucas Oleniuk, Toronto Star, under license from Torstar

Yesterday Catherine Porter, Environment Reporter for the Toronto Star dropped by our place to watch us seed our new green driveway. This is the final chapter in an ongoing saga that found us battling Toronto City Hall for the right to replace our wall-to-wall interlock driveway with a permeable green driveway.

Well, perhaps ‘battle’ isn’t really the correct word, because Franke made it all look very straightforward. Back in the Spring, Franke was told by North York officials that we could only build a driveway out of concrete, asphalt or interlock. She was shocked and pointed out, “But none of those are good for the environment! How can you ask people to do that? The website says that you want Toronto to be a green city….” But the officials weren’t budging.

The next day she put her communications skills to work and called up Paul Moloney at the Toronto Star. He responded by writing an article Eco-friendly driveway is rejected by the city. Then Melissa Grelo from City TV read the article, and came over to interview Franke and find out what was really going on. Melissa understood what a contradiction it was and called up the Mayor’s office. She promised, “You’ll be hearing from the Mayor’s office, they said they’ll be looking into it.”

But a couple of days passed and there was no phone call. Action was called for! Armed with the Toronto Star article, the City TV news item, and a Treehugger article, she phoned the Mayor’s office. She politely requested an explanation as to why she was being told by North York officials that she could not install an eco-friendly driveway, when everyone knows that Toronto is aiming to be the greenest city in North America…. For the full scoop and to see the final ‘reveal’ read Franke’s step-by-step articles on her My Green Conscience blog.

Also check out Catherine Porter’s article Driveway Dispute has Green Ending. Below is a short excerpt from it.

“While other people shovel or sweep their driveways, Franke James spent yesterday seeding hers. It marks the first lawn driveway in North York — a model she hopes her neighbours will follow.

“If more people in our neighbourhood did this, it would be a terrific thing for the environment,” said James, who runs an advertising and design business with her husband, Bill. Watching as he laid straw on top of the grass seed to guard it from birds, she added: “This was a small thing we could do to help the environment.”

The truth is, there was nothing small about it. The couple’s project has been gargantuan, starting with a battle at city hall, where arcane regulations forbid homeowners in North York from resurfacing driveways with anything other than brick, asphalt or pavement, despite the city’s greater green agenda …”

2 Replies to “Franke’s Dream for a Green Driveway”

  1. I am very interested in doing the same as my driveway will need a major reno next year and I would sooner proceed with your idea than the conventional one of placing pavement on the ground.


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