Energy company to build organic garden

A new, organic community garden opened on Sunday for Burke Mountain residents. - COURTESY OF WESBILD
A new, organic community garden opened on Sunday for Burke Mountain residents.
— image credit: COURTESY OF WESBILD

A strip of land in Coquitlam's Town Centre Park will be dug up next month to make way for green thumbs.

This week, the city announced it had been picked by FortisBC to be a recipient of its Community Day of Giving, meaning the energy company will spend $30,000 and its employees will volunteer to build an organic garden north of the Inspiration Garden at Pipeline Road and Guildford Way.

As well, a portion of the pesticide-free produce grown there will be handed over to Share Family and Community Services' food bank, said Lori MacKay, Coquitlam's general manager of parks, recreation and cultural services.

Each year, FortisBC chooses three municipalities in which to create a public amenity; in 2012, the company built a BMX track in Abbotsford and playgrounds in Victoria and Prince George.

About 150 FortisBC employees and their families are expected in Coquitlam on June 15 to volunteer for the local community garden.

Once it's open, interested gardeners can apply to the city for one of the 40 plots, each measuring three by six feet, of which about a dozen will be located inside the "hoop house." Members will be charged between $30 and $50 a year per plot to help offset maintenance costs.

"We expect interest to be very high," MacKay told the city's council-in-committee on Monday.

Still, some councillors bristled when MacKay said membership will be on a first-come, first-serve basis — and not limited to Coquitlam residents.

Coun. Brent Asmundson said the surrounding area is full of highrises and space to grow fresh food is scarce; his comments were echoed by councillors Mae Reid and Lou Sekora, a City Centre resident.

News of the FortisBC donation came a day after a community garden opened on Burke Mountain designed exclusively for the use of residents living on the mountainside.

On Sunday, the non-profit group Shifting Growth opened 60 plots on land owned by Wesbild, at the west end of Princeton Avenue at Collins Road; that community garden is temporary, however, as the property is designated in city plans to be a future school and/or park site.

Jennifer Derbyshire, Wesbild's marketing and community relations director, said the Burke plots will cost members $30 a year and, like the Town Centre Park garden, part of produce will be donated to the Share food bank.


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