Courier article about Sunset Beach intercultural community garden

This article appeared in the October 22 edition of the Vancouver Courier
Vancouver Courier

by Sandra Thomas

A proposal to create a multicultural community garden on Sunset Beach has been withdrawn due to negative feedback from residents living near the proposed site.

If approved the proposal would have been a joint project spearheaded by YMCA Connections in partnership with the West End Residents Association (WERA) and Gordon Neighbourhood House, with support from the park board.

WERA president Brent Granby said after speaking with residents living near the proposed location, he discovered that while there’s a lot of support for community gardens, there are many misconceptions regarding what they entail.

“The positive feedback was really encouraging,” said Granby. “But it also showed the park board needed to do a bigger round of consultations.”

The project was to be modelled after the intercultural garden built on the rooftop of St. Paul’s Hospital on Burrard Street, also created by the YMCA, WERA and Gordon House. To be representative of the West End’s population, 60 per cent of the garden was to be dedicated to Canadian citizens and 40 per cent to residents who haven’t integrated into Canadian society.

Earlier this fall the YMCA approached the park board with a proposal to build the garden in David Lam Park in Yaletown, but residents there also complained, so that location was never pursued. Granby said one of the positive aspects of the recent negotiations is the interest many residents showed in the project. WERA will likely offer future workshops on community gardens and food security.

Vision Vancouver park board chair Aaron Jasper said he took away the same message from the recent proceedings. “I spoke with staff about organizing a town hall meeting to talk about community gardens and the park board’s policy around them,” said Jasper.

He noted a small parking lot on Sunset Beach is no longer in use. Transforming that pavement to a community garden would be ideal, said Jasper. “I still think Sunset Beach has potential,” said Jasper. “And we wouldn’t be taking up any green space.”

Granby agrees.

“That’s something WERA would really like to pursue,” said Granby.

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