Adrian Bilodeau created the garden on 156 Street and King George Boulevard as a tribute to his late father.

Community gardens hit by thievery

South Surrey and White Rock locations victims of crime

At least two more community gardens on the Peninsula have been targeted by thieves.

The Ruth Johnson Community Garden – located on Vine Street, just east of Centennial Park – and a small community garden on 156 Street near King George Boulevard are the latest green spaces that have been hit by thieves.

Last month, members of the White Rock and Surrey Naturalists spoke out about the constant thefts at the Eva Bene Butterfly Garden in White Rock, noting there was no viable way to ward off thieves who removed dozens of plants from the volunteer-run space.

According to White Rock green thumb and children’s entertainer Max Tell, their story is not a unique one. Over the last two years, the Ruth Johnson Community Garden, where he and his wife have a plot, has been the target of vandals and thieves.

“Last year, we had sunflowers that had their heads broken off, we had a couple of plants in a planter and folks had taken them and dumped them off by the fence. There was lots of vandalism last year,” he said.

This year, however, the problem has been theft, with six garden plots that were dug up and harvested of their vegetables – namely potatoes – two months ago.

“It was really, really sad to go in and see what someone had done to the garden. We don’t get a lot of produce and, when we do, we share it with friends. It’s slim pickings and it’s more from the heart,” Tell said.

Adrian Bilodeau echoed Tell, noting the garden he initially created on the green space adjacent to his home on 156 Street and King George Boulevard began as a project to honour his late father, but later became a garden for his community.

In five years, the South Surrey resident’s labour of love grew from a small 10- to 15-foot project into a garden nearly 250 feet long.

“Because people showed so much interest and appreciated it, it turned from being the memory of my father to me dedicating it to the citizens of the city where I grew up,” he said.

However, Bilodeau’s garden recently became the target of thieves, who made off with more than 40 plants, trees and shrubs, as well as a sumac tree.

“It was a little disheartening that someone would come and do that,” he said, noting he even made a sign for the garden explaining the space was in memory of his late father and that the garden was dedicated to the citizens of the city.

Tell conceded plant theft is difficult to deter. He’s considered posting a sign or locking the fence but fears it could make the situation worse.

“Telling people they don’t belong won’t help, and people will just hop the fence,” he said. “One thing we’re doing is talking to the city about putting up a sign that welcomes people and lets them know this is their garden, too.”

 

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