Sunset Beach community garden

In my capacity as President of the West End Residents Association I have been participating in a project to develop more community gardens in the West End. The project is a partnership between the YMCA and Gordon House to create an Intercultural Community Garden in the downtown peninsula. The project has already establish a garden on the roof of St. Paul’s Hospital and formed a new partnership with Providence Health Care which has enabled some 5o gardeners to grow organic food.

At the start of the project it was hoped that some space in a Vancouver parks could be found to increase the capacity to grow food in the downtown peninsula. The Vancouver Park Board does have policy in place to support this project. The project work with staff to find a suitable location for the garden and two sites were suggested by staff for the garden. One site was in David Lam Park and an open house was held and area residents gave very heavy negative feed back on the proposal. Staff recommend that another site should go to the public for consultation and this was the Sunset Beach proposal. This proposal was introduce to the area residents for feedback.

While in general there was a lot of support for community gardens the was a major opinion that the Sunset Beach area was not a good choice for a garden. The partners of the project produce the following statement:

“Dear Community,

The Intercultural Community Gardens Project was created in December, 2009, as a partnership by the YMCA Connections Program, the West End Residents Association and the Gordon Neighbourhood House. The main goals were to promote social harmony amid a diverse population, improve food security and enhance green spaces. In June, 2010, the first site was planted on the rooftop garden terrace of St. Paul’s Hospital, providing 50 neighbours with the opportunity to learn how to build a more inclusive society and how to grow their own organic food.

Knowing that demand in the Downtown Peninsula for food-growing spaces and for intercultural exchanges would be high, the project partners had worked with the Vancouver Park Board staff  since August of 2009 to search for sites. In October, 2010, a proposed site was selected on a grassy, flat area at Sunset Beach, and the public was invited to respond with opinions.

Although a large number of supporters contacted the Park Board to support the proposal, many more community members spoke against the plan. Their reasons were varied.

To respect the wishes of the many community members opposing a garden at the Sunset Beach location, we are withdrawing our proposal. We will continue to explore with the Park Board and other community partners the possibility of extending the project to other sites in the Downtown Peninsula.

We thank all those who took the time to show how strongly they care about our community by voicing their opinions.”

While I feel disappointed that the garden is not going forward, I am encourage by the support for the idea of community gardens in parks in Vancouver. I am hoping through a larger consultative process that a garden site can be found. I also think that there needs to be a larger public dialogue on community gardens and food security in Vancouver.

3 Responses to “Sunset Beach community garden”

  1. douglas gook says:

    Brent and All in the West End;
    I whole heartedly support a massive expansion of community garden space but suggest it should be as a conversion of paved public space and not park lands. Parking lots, back allies and decommissioned sections of streets should be the priority.
    At a recent `Design Nerd’ jamm, city planners were very open to neighbourhood community concensus democracy proposals that would decommission lanes/streets for garden space, traffic calming, community bake ovens, kid space, consolidation of recycling pick ups, etc. Mole Hill is an example of this.

  2. brent says:

    I agree Doug, it would be great if we could get a garden on the parking lot. I am hoping that will be a positive outcome of this process is that parking lot could be identified as a possible location for a community garden. When I was out talk with folks on the Sunset Beach proposal there was a lot of support for that location.

  3. Val says:

    Hi Brent,

    Saw the article in the Courier today, Oct. 22/10 regarding a proposed community garden on a “small parking lot on Sunset Beach.” Could you please describe the exact location of the area you’re referring to because I can only think of the large parking lot adjacent to the hockey rink and skateboard area that serves the Pride Festival, the Fireworks , and is over-flow for English Bay events such as the Polar Bear Swim. Maybe you’re thinking of the area west of the sewer system and pumping station?
    Thank you.
    BTW where is WERA? I can’t find you listed anywhere. The Community Centre on Denman didn’t know how to reach you either.
    Look forward to hearing from you.

Leave a Response