Council approves locations for two community gardens
Updated March 31, 2016: Community Gardens Governance and Agreements – Council authorized the Mayor and CAO to sign the License of Occupation Agreements for the two new community gardens. The new community gardens are located at 820 Highwood Trail SW and the park on Riverside Drive NW. The governance of these community gardens will be done under an agreement between the Town of High River and the Community Gardens Society, for occupation of the land for the purposes of operating and maintaining community gardens.
Updated February 9, 2016: Town Council has accepted the Community Gardens Ad Hoc Committee's recommendation for the construction of two community gardens located at the park at Riverside Drive N.W. and the Town Farm building at McLaughlin Meadows S.W.
After significant research and public consultation, the committee identified their two preferred garden locations from a possible 23 sites in High River and administration presented their final report to council on February 8.
“In general, the feedback we received from residents who live around both proposed community garden locations was positive,” says Sarah Mitchell parks and culture coordinator with the Town. “We look forward to those residents and the public’s input on the proposed designs of the gardens at our upcoming open house.”
The open house was held on March 1 in Council Chambers from 4-8 p.m. Forms will be available at the event to compile expressions of interest for a plot in either location. The plot application process is underway and will be posted once finalized. Local businesses who may be interested in donating equipment and skilled labour to this project are also encouraged to attend.
“The committee plans to bring the community together by offering a variety of features, such as raised planting beds for seniors and individuals with limited mobility, communal crops like berry producing trees and plants, as well as larger plots for families,” says Mitchell.
The Community Gardens Ad Hoc Committee has received generous funding from TD Bank’s Friends of the Environment Foundation (TDFEF) and the High River Disaster Relief Fund and it is hoped that some material and skilled labour may be donated to this project to make the grant funding stretch further. A sign thanking all donors will be posted at both locations once the gardens are constructed.
To view the full report, please click here
In May of 2015, the Town of High River was the recipient of a $10,000.00 grant from the TD Bank’s Friends of the Environment Foundation (TDFEF) to assist with creation of additional community gardens. The Town’s submission of this funding application was based on the significant interest in community gardens as gathered through a public consultation process initiated in 2011, and as indicated by the growing waiting list for plots at the Sheppard Family Park location. Unfortunately, the flood had prevented further progress on the project until this year.
With the funding confirmed, Administration received support and direction from Council for creation of an Community Gardens Ad Hoc Committee, whose mandate would be to oversee and advise on the creation of two (2) community gardens and the formation of a future governance model for the gardens, based on an endorsed Terms of Reference. To that end, a request for volunteers was issued, and appointments to the Community Gardens Ad Hoc Committee were confirmed at Council’s meeting of July 20, 2015.
Throughout the summer and fall, the Committee has been actively engaged in identifying and researching parcels of Town owned lands as potential locations for two new community gardens. On September 14, 2015, a delegation of Committee members attended a Council Meeting, reporting that 14 potential sites had been identified and assessed in consultation with Town departments, including Operations, Engineering and Parks. Basic evaluation criteria included availability of water, ease of site accessibility, suitability of grade, and parking capacity.
The delegation discussed two sites in particular, along with potential garden designs, one being in the northwest area of High River (along Riverside Drive NW) and the other in the southwest area (along Highwood Trail SW, near the Town Farm, in McLaughlin Meadows).
Following the presentation, Council directed Administration to prepare a full report outlining probable and preferred locations, along with any associated costs to the Town.
In early December, the Ad Hoc Committee and the Town’s staff liaison will be hosting a meeting with those McLaughlin Meadows residents who live in close proximity to the proposed community gardens site, to explore any questions or concerns, and discuss possible design and location options. A similar meeting will take place in the New Year with residents who live in close proximity to the NW site.
In 2016 a report will be presented to Council outlining the outcomes of that consultation and containing the Committee’s final recommendations for Council’s consideration.
On January 26, 2016 the Community Gardens Ad Hoc Committee also hosted an open house for the homeowners who reside around the proposed community garden along Riverside Drive NW. Administration plans to present the Committee’s findings in a report to Council on February 8, 2016 and will be requesting approval to proceed.