Art Wilkinson Community Garden Gets Uprooted; Garden Plots Thicken At Town Centre Park

Neighbours say community gardens not needed amid single-family homes with big backyards
stock photo supplied Sikander Iqbal https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thorncliffe_Park_Community_Garden_-_2019.jpg

After being approved, praised, pilloried and paused – the Art Wilkinson community garden project has now been canceled, following a unanimous vote from Port Moody council Tuesday night.

Noting that the location offered 450 square metres, full sun and on-site parking, council advanced the then 40-bed Art Wilkinson community garden in March 2021. The project was later expanded to include 60 garden beds, much to the chagrin of many neighbours.


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60 gardens and 60% opposed

Concerns ranged from roving bears to: “a potential increase in crime and impacts on the safety of children,” according to a city staff report.

Several Glenayre neighbours slammed the project as being superfluous, given that it would have been surrounded by single-family homes: “where everyone has large yards, certainly enough room for their own plots,” according to one respondent in a city survey.

Another respondent stated they did not want to see: “extra people and the traffic coming into the neighbourhood.”

“We have had an increase in crime in this area over the past few years and I wouldn’t want to make it easier for would-be offenders to have the ability to be inconspicuous under the guise of ‘here for the community garden,’” another respondent stated.

The survey, which received responses from 119 residents, found 60.5 percent were opposed to the project.

Despite the outcry, Port Moody council affirmed their support for the project last January.


Long list, scarce space

“Community gardens generally don’t attract bears,” Coun. Amy Lubik said, adding that any traffic increase would be minimal. Lubik also noted that community gardens tend to lead to a decrease in crime levels.

“There are a lot of people waiting for a small plot of earth and there’s not that many suitable places,” Lubik said in the January meeting. Lubik emphasized the need to support social connectedness while increasing food security.

Council unanimously backed Lubik’s motion with the understanding that city staff would report back on the impact of the project next year.

However, council voted to cancel the project Tuesday without discussion.


Farther afield . .

But while the Art Wilkinson project was snipped at the roots, council gave the green light to green thumbs in the Knowle Street area, approving a 20-bed community garden project at Town Centre Park.

Including labour and materials, the project is expected to cost $25,300.

While “not technically a park,” council is also mulling using the lawn adjacent to Kyle Centre for a 40-plot community garden.

If the idea is supported by neighbouring residents, the garden could be up and growing in 2023, according to a city staff report. Start-up costs are estimated at $31,100.

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