And one group looks to the audience for a little more vocal support.
Nearly four years ago, Cedar Cottage Community Garden (CCCG) submitted an application to the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, proposing a community garden in an underused southeast corner of John Hendry Park (Trout Lake).
Around the same time, in 2018, it was also announced that the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency planned to build on the garden’s current site, one block south of John Hendry Park. Initially, the CCCG only used land under the SkyTrain guideway, but the garden was asked to expand by the City in 2010 as part of a Winter Olympics initiative to increase community gardening in Vancouver.
Jointly founded by the Vancouver Native Health Society, the Vancouver Community Agriculture Network and the Cedar Cottage Food Network, the CCCG has approximately 100 members.
At the risk of losing its space entirely, CCCG was counting on the John Hendry Park Renewal Project.
Late last week the parks board announced its final plan for the renewal of John Hendry Park and it did not include the 0.2 hectare community garden in its 27 hectare plans, leaving many supporters of the disappointed public.
CCCG is asking people to register to speak at the next Parks Board meeting when this plan is presented to commissioners for a vote on Monday, May 16 as a “last ditch attempt” to save the garden, according to a statement from hurry.
CCGC believes it has demonstrated to the Parks Board how well its model works. The group was an early adopter of the Local Food System Action Plan, following the Park Board plan since the garden was established in 2008, long before the plan actually launched in 2021.
The latest John Hendry Park Renewal Plan cites reconciliation and opening up flexible spaces among its top priorities that CCCG believes it fits into – providing family and communal plots with fruit trees, berries, herbs and flowers for people to gather and enjoy in a safe space.
The renewal plans identify three reasons why they did not include community gardens:
1. The southeast section of the park that has been proposed for a community garden has been assigned an area of cultural interest that will reflect Indigenous values and needs. The indigenous-led planning and design team will identify changes that will be made, including the extent to which food production is included.
2. The current Local Food System Action Plan (2021) is being reviewed and alternative approaches to integrating food into parks are being explored, such as food forests which may be more democratic than community gardens plot-oriented.
3. Much of John Hendry Park is already considered scheduled space and “open space has become the surrogate living room” for people since the pandemic, so unstructured open space must be maintained.
Park maps are divided into different categories or layers:
- A culture that seeks reconciliation and cultural diversity and that will have an Indigenous celebration center.
- The water area which has protections in place for the lake, a rainwater channel for neighborhood runoff, natural green space for ecosystems, pollinators and local wildlife to thrive.
- Maintained recreation areas with seats, drinking water and picnic shelters, activity areas with play areas, sports fields and an off-leash dog park.
- Spaces for movement such as running and walking paths and bicycling, as well as parking.