Tree-planting ceremony cancelled

The City of Cape Town agreed not to have their tree planting ceremony in District Six yesterday, Wednesday September 30, after three District Six organisations objected to it.

The tree-planting ceremony was initiated by the City of Cape Town after they held their first public meeting on the Local Spatial Development Framework (LSDF) for District Six last Tuesday September 22.

The LSDF is part of a public-participation process with District Six organisations and claimants where members can provide their comments and views on how the future vision of District Six can be redeveloped.

The District Six Museum, District Six Civic Association (D6CA) and District Six Reference Group (D6RG) objected to the tree planting which would have taken place on the hill on the corner of Constitution and Cauvin streets, District Six.

In a joint unsigned statement released by the District Six Museum, D6CA and D6RG they said they do not object to the beautification of the District Six site for returnees.

“The objections we raise lie in the practicality of a symbolic tree planting on a designated site where no claimants have settled,” they said.

The statement by the three organisations urged 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 chairperson of the D6CA, Asa Salie, says the decision to have a tree-planting event was, firstly, a decision that was opposed in the meeting last Tuesday.

“There is no rush to plant trees now, but to have trees planted simultaneously with phases of people moving in,” she says.

The City was going to go ahead with the tree-planting ceremony as discussed at the LSDF meeting, though cancelled it on Monday September 28, acknowledging the objections given by the three organisations.

Mayoral committee member for spatial planning and environment Marian Nieuwoudt says the tree planting event was planned in line with Arbour Month, a time when the recreation and parks department embarked on a drive to plant trees across the city.

Ms Nieuwoudt says the tree planting was also to build excitement on the recently initiated LSDF 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.”