Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Where are the Community Gardens

The Record has an article about the Port Royal Community Garden, located in Queensborough. By all accounts, the garden has been a smashing success, and representatives will be attending the Queensborough Urban Farmers' Fall Fair. The 25-odd plots are full, and there is a waiting list of another 25 people. The garden is basically doubling in size to address the large demand.

For some time now I have been wanting to grow a small vegetable garden, for a number of reasones that basically boil down to it is better, cheaper and healthier for you. When we moved to New West, I started looking for an Uptown community garden, and was disappointed that the only one I could find was the garden in Queensborough.

I decided to check with New West Parks, Culture and Recreation Board to see what their plans are for community gardens. Interestingly, it is hard to find good information from the Parks Board. They have a reasonable site detailing facilities and activies availabe, but I haven't found any information detailing the back end of the board. For example, questions I could not find answers to on the Parks or City websites are

- Who is on the board?
- When and where are the public meetings?
- Minutes from previous meetings
- Any kind of long term vision, goal or strategy

What I did find is the New Westminster Environmental Partners seems to be taking the lead on the community garden issue. It sounds like the have had some success in moving this forward, with a presentation to the City in September. The also put on occassional public meetings, including one tonight (7:00 PM at CAW Union Hall, 326 12th Street). Other groups, such as the New West Downtown Residents Association seem to be deferring to them.

While I am glad the NWEP is pushing forward on the community garden issue, I am concerned with the lack (or at least very hard to find) of information from the Parks Board. New West is blessed with a number of great parks, and with its small size, it feels like there is an abundance of parks available for the public. This is a large strength for the city, and we should be discussing how we can improve on that strength and use it to build strong communities. To do that we need to make the discussions, plans and meetings of the Park Board more visible.


  1. The city is very supportive of the idea of community gardens, but as I understand it, they are intentionally requiring such a movement to be citizen-led, because the actual success is so dependent on the investment of time and energy from citizens, not parks staff. I think it was smart of the city. They have been responsive and available to provide resources and information on request, but by requiring citizen effort to push this forward, they can hedge against spending tax dollars to set up a garden that may not have the necessary commitment to be sustained.

  2. That makes sense. In any case I'm glad the NWEP is pursuing it. I'm keeping an eye on their site so I can pop into the next public meeting.

    You seem to have a good handle on what's going on with the municipal government. I really appreciate your feedback - nly being here a year I'm still trying to get a grasp on why things are the way they are, and you're comments here and posts at TTTF help a great deal.