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Proposed Port Moody community garden could be looking for a new home

The planned garden is to be comprised of 60 plots but neighbours are worried about traffic and attracting bears
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Lori Greyell, right, and Tabitha McLoughlin visit the proposed site for a 60-plot community garden in Art Wilkinson Park. A staff report to be presented to council on Tuesday recommends the city find another location after residents in the neighbourhood raised objections.

Community gardens may not be coming to Art Wilkinson Park after all.

A report to be presented to Port Moody city council at its meeting on Tuesday (Jan. 11) recommends staff find another suitable location for 60 plots after residents in the Glenayre neighbourhood expressed concerns.

Those worries prompted staff to pull back on a plan that would have seen the plots constructed in the park last summer and instead consult the community to gauge resident support. Of the 119 responses received to an online survey, 60.5 per cent weren’t in favour of the location, 31.9 per cent said they approved and 7.6 per cent were unsure.

Among the concerns were increased traffic in the neighbourhood, the potential of the gardens to attract bears and rodents as well as the possibility of increased crime in the area.

Also, some respondents said a community garden isn’t necessary in the neighbourhood as it’s already comprised mostly of single-family homes with large yards that could easily accommodate private gardens.

The gardens at Art Wilkinson Park were initially approved by Port Moody councillors last March, who also increased the number of plots to 60 from the 40 that had been proposed by staff.

Another 20-plot garden was also approved for a patch of property in front of the city’s recreation complex on Ioco Road.

The combined budget for the two gardens was $62,000.

While the smaller facility was constructed in time for last spring’s planting season, the latter was put on hold when neighbours objected.

Lori Greyell, the coordinator of the community garden next to Port Moody’s police headquarters on St. Johns Street, said the new plots would take the heat off its own growing wait list as well as a queue for people hoping for a plot in the city’s other established garden at Rocky Point Park.

Tabitha McLoughlin, the executive director of the Grow Local Society that manages farmers markets in Port Moody and Coquitlam, said community gardens are an important component of food security as people become more invested in knowing where their food comes from.

She said that concern has boomed through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, including supply chain problems when processing plants shut down due to outbreaks.

“The pandemic has shone a light on how fragile the food system is,” she said.