Would allowing gardening on Port Moody’s grassy boulevards make up for the shortfall of community gardens?
Couns. Amy Lubik and Samantha Agtarap planted that seed on May 23 as council voted unanimously to send staff digging into potential guidelines and locations for the practice.
“Community gardens in our community are waitlisted, and we don’t have enough to meet the current demand,” said Agtarap. “This is an opportunity to change that.”
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Port Moody currently has three community gardens with long waitlists. City staff are considering adding 40 more gardening boxes at Kyle Centre to alleviate demand.
Agtarap said grassy boulevards require maintenance by the city, are not climate resilient, and don’t contribute as food sources.
The motion points to the City of Vancouver’s public gardening program as an example of how Port Moody could move forward,
“The idea here is to provide an opportunity for residents of either single-family or multi-family buildings to garden,” Agtarap said. “I think it has an opportunity to improve the look of our community, and maybe create a bit of sense of pride in our streetscapes.”
Gardening should be done with species that do not attract bears, and would support pollinators like bees and bats, according to the motion.
The councillors also said it could provide opportunities for socializing within the community, and is in line with food security and climate action goals.
Lubik pointed to a study that showed access to community plots improves the physical, social and mental health of residents.
The motion suggests staff consider consulting with the Tri-Cities Grow Local Society.
Coun. Diana Dilworth said she was familiar with Vancouver’s model, and although supportive, expressed some caution around potential guidelines related to enforcement and maintenance.
“I spent five years working along Commercial Drive,” Dilworth said. “I can tell you there were some beautiful boulevards, there were also some that were not so beautiful.”
Dilworth said the gardens can be a public enhancement if done correctly, but much depends on the ability and commitment of the gardeners themselves.
Mayor Meghan Lahti said expanding gardening “could be a real win,” but echoed some of Dilworth’s comments.
Lahti said the city needs to be aware of the liabilities and impacts, and make sure responsibility and maintenance rules are clear.
She also added they need to keep in mind how much work they are assigning staff, and what items are being prioritized.