District 6 tree-planting ceremony gets the axe, Newsline

Cape Town – Lobby groups have felled the City’s planned tree planting ceremony after they raised objections.

The District Six Museum, District Six Civic Association and District Six Reference Group said plans by the City to have a symbolic tree-planting ceremony on a designated site where no claimants have settled, and which was far removed from a historic and existing District Six community, makes no sense as it should be on land that needed services.

District Six Museum acting director Chrischene Julius said: “We urge the City to divert its resources to supporting the restitution process in areas of District Six that need them, and to continue the participation process to decide any other forms of beautification and services to the site.”

The objections were raised during the City’s first public meeting on the local spatial development framework for District Six last week.

According to District Six Reference Group chairperson Gerald Elliot, there has been no consultation. “The City has repeatedly stated its intention to collaborate with stakeholders, and have them assist in formulating the spatial development framework. We object that the City proposes to go-ahead with the ceremony, despite an emphasis in the public meeting that no consultation had taken place,” said Elliot.

Asa Salie, from the District Six Civic Association, said: “The residents who attended the first meeting on September 22 understood this to be the first of many meetings, where the dates and the process will take place in a form of workshops.

“The decision to have a tree planting event is, firstly, a decision that was opposed in the meeting of the September 22.

“There is no rush to plant trees now, but to have trees planted simultaneously with phases of people moving in. The streets chosen for the ceremony, being Lymington Terrace and Constitution Street, are where people took over the homes and land of the dispossessed people of District Six. The process is absent and that’s what needs to happen so that there is input from all claimants.”

Mayco member for spatial planning and environment Marian Nieuwoudt said the tree planting event was planned in line with Arbor Month.

“This was done at a time when the Recreation and Parks Department embarks on a drive to plant trees across the City throughout the month of September, to focus attention and build excitement on the recently initiated Local Spatial Development Framework approach for District Six.

“However, it was decided to rather not have the tree-planting ceremony given the objections of the organisations in an attempt to build a common understanding and agreement on the actions and events going forward,” she said.

Cape Argus