Plots revealed: new community gardens sprout in Port Moody

Good morning, everybody.

Today we’ve got savings for those who need them and gardens for Port Moody green thumbs.

Also, a quick reminder for my fellow procrastinators in Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam: your utility bills are due today. From here on out, procrastination comes with a financial cost, rather than just the cost of stress.

Now, let’s get to it.

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Dig it.

In a bid to mitigate social isolation and benefit local food production, Port Moody council unanimously voted to build 60 garden beds at Art Wilkinson Park and another 20 at Town Centre Park.

Budget: The project is set to cost $62,000. However, once the gardens are up and blooming, the project is slated to be handled by non-profit community groups at no cost to the city.

Council was previously slated to spend $53,000 on 60 gardens but upped the budget to $62,000 and 80 gardens after Coun. Hunter Madsen suggested putting another 20 beds into Art Wilkinson Park.

Wait watchers: While there are 78 other community garden plots in Port Moody, a staff report noted that with long waitlists and slow turnover: “it can take many years to obtain a plot in Port Moody.”

There are about 5,400 Port Coquitlam residents who – after paying the rent and buying the groceries – don’t have much money for recreation.

In a bid to help those people, city council voted unanimously to boost the recreation subsidy from 50 to 75 per cent while refining what staff described as a sometimes: “undignified and unnecessary” income verification process.

Greater flexibility: While the overall subsidy remains capped at $200, anyone looking to skate, swim or workout in a Port Coquitlam rec centre can now spend that subsidy at any point in the year as opposed to the previous policy limiting users to $50 per quarter.

The prior approach put up financial barriers, particularly for parents trying to book children’s camps, according to a city staff report.

Verification: While individual applicants would still need to verify their income, the new process allows community organizations, schools, and other agencies that might have already examined a resident’s financial situation to take over that role.

Unfinished business: Discussing the issue March 23, Couns. Laura Dupont and Steve Darling each discussed raising the subsidy for people who need it. Darling noted that, even with the discount, some activities remain unaffordable for cash-strapped families.

  • “I think we need to do something about that because those are the people we want to help the most,” Darling said.

Council is tentatively slated to re-examine the issue in April.

For comparison:

  • Surrey offers a maximum discount of $500 for youth and $250 for adults.
  • Coquitlam offers 50 free drop-in admissions and two free programs (or four programs at 50 per cent off). Alternatively, Coquitlam resident in need can spend $10 for unlimited drop-ins.
  • Port Moody residents can get 50 per cent off on services. Port Moody also offers 50 per cent off on two weeks of summer day camps for each eligible family member.

With rec facilities shuttered, Port Coquitlam awarded $4,865 in financial assistance for rec users in 2020 – approximately one-quarter of what they’d handed out in 2019. The new budget is $35,000.

With the indoors now out of bounds, Coquitlam has repainted, re-lit and reopened sport courts at Hickey Park following a six-month, $750,000 overhaul.

The asphalt on the tennis courts has been replaced with plastic composite tiles while UV mesh fencing is intended to keep the breeze out of the game.

The city received $200,000 for the project through the federal Gas Tax Fund.

  • Noting the critical nature parks play in individual health, Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart thanked federal and provincial partners for chipping in on the upgrades.

Hickey has six tennis courts, two basketball courts and a ball hockey court.

  • Hard reboot: Boot camps kick off in Port Moody
  • Come for the band, stay for the bandwidth: Festival du Bois heads online
  • Checkmate, kids: Virtual chess at the library
  • Race virtually, in any direction, to benefit youth programs

If you don’t have wings or claws, maybe stay off the mudflats.

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