Love locks have become passé and are on the way out all over the world, but the city of Vancouver is forcing citizens to turn this dying trend into public art.
In case you haven’t heard of this trend, a love lock is a padlock decorated with a couple’s initials and stuck onto a public monument — things like bridges and gates. The general idea behind love locks is actually at least 100 years old, dating back to the First World War. The love lock trend, however, gained popularity only in the 2000s and has quickly been rejected by most cities, with reason: Love locks are ugly, transforming beautiful areas into cheap souvenir stands. They’re also dangerous, adding undue weight to structures and, in famous cases like Paris’ Pont des Arts, threatening their collapse.
As a result, cities from Paris (which recently removed almost 1 million locks from bridges) and New York City to Saskatoon are cracking down and removing love locks from their structures. The trend is over…
And yet the city of Vancouver is asking citizens to vote on a local park in which to create a regulated installation for locking.
Why is Vancouver so behind?
It seems that, after removing smatterings of locks found around town, the city’s Parks Department is trying to be nice by offering a safe place to lock down. Sounds sweet, right?
Here’s the thing: Let’s say you’re a hopeless romantic, and you’re drawn to the passionate, spontaneous symbolism of publicly “locking your love” — if the government tries to re-create exactly the same thing but in a dispassionate, regulated environment, then does it not lose some of the whimsical enchantment that was at the core of the idea? Will lining up for your turn to add a new lock to some installation still have that heart-pounding thrill?
I think a city-planned love lock installation, in 2015, is a pointless waste of time and money.
Instead of throwing love into a hunk of steel, perhaps it’s time for Vancouverites and lock aficionados across the world to find alternative, even-more romantic (and less dangerous) ways to express their love.
In Melbourne, people are doing just this: Officials are removing locks from the Southgate Bridge but are also encouraging residents to find alternative public expressions of their original love locks.
As for Paris, the residents of the city of love have already made up for the absence of this hardware on the Pont des Arts, replacing the heavy locks with love-inspired art.