We went to the meeting last night on behalf of the many lovely folks who either were unavailable or wanted to go and were too upset to sit through a city meeting.
Much of the meeting was as contradictory as the rest we've had. City staff say one thing, and do another or they say opposing "facts" back to back. They present themselves as credulous as to why the collaboration between the community and the city broke down.
Somehow, the community driven project that was going to cost $24,000 in grant money and provide twelve (12) beds, has turned into a job that the city has contracted to a landscape company that cost well over $50,000 for six (6) beds. If you want the exact dollar figure, we were told you can email Garth Armour at email@example.com.
Basically, we echo what so many other gardens have been sharing with us this past few years:
There is a detrimental gap in communication and collaboration between Parks & Rec staff and the community members.
We wanted to share some feedback we have received with you:
"Somebody told me they heard about your garden on the CBC this morning, and so I looked it up on your website. What a story. It's certainly a strange time that we're in, where there is long, long inaction and then suddenly a whole bunch of new "cooks" (i.e. city staff) who definitely spoil the broth. And being cut right out of things, meetings behind closed doors, etc., is the experience that groups have had all over the city, for years." Community Gardener
"The problem extends way beyond the gardens. For many decades Parks and Rec has been one of the city departments least able to collaborate. Mostly they steal people's ideas and then do a substandard version of them with their own staff. That's a strange harsh thing to say but it's a fair shorthand, anyway." Community Gardener
The more important information for those who wish to garden at the site:
There are a total of 6 beds, one of which is for mobility challenged persons.
There are no allotments. This is community gardening.
The clubhouse is still part of the deal.
The city will provide plants, but you must specifically ask for plants that have not been treated with neoniconoids. (Yes, that sounds like the city does not follow this as best practice throughout the city! And yes, if you think this sounds like a call to action, it is. Get in touch if you have time to devote to this.)
The city will provide some tools and a list must be given to them of what the group will need.
For the garden permit to be handed out, the community must follow the list set out on the community garden website here. The new group needs to select a garden co-ordinator and determine their structure, etc.
I would encourage those who wish to garden to act quickly if they wish to have all this work done while there is still a growing season.
I would also like to encourage the gardeners to focus on building a strong connection with each other, with the neighbours, and with the larger community. Connect with other gardens across the city and share your experiences and knowledge base.
If you want to have the kind of garden you want, you will need that connection and strength to advocate for yourselves in the future.