White Rock staff are looking into a request to support the creation and operation of more community gardens in the city.
The direction to do so was given by council at its June 24 meeting, following a delegation by Rick Ketcheson of the Semiahmoo Food Network.
Ketcheson asked the city to make a five-year commitment to the concept – to help identify and evaluate potential sites, help with community engagement and look at other pilot food projects.
Such gardens build community, create shared green space and contribute to community health and wellness, he said. They also help address food security issues.
In appealing for council support, Ketcheson said opportunities to create community gardens abound in White Rock; including on hillside road ends, undeveloped property and even on private land.
Space his group has spotted on Centre Street has particular appeal.
“In my dreams, it would be an urban vineyard that would put White Rock on the map,” Ketcheson said, evoking smiles and nods of agreement from supporters and council members alike.
Pointing to the popularity of existing community gardens on the Semiahmoo Peninsula – all of which have a waiting list for plots – Ketcheson said it’s clear the interest and demand exists.
In response to questions from council, Ketcheson said he has amassed a list of about 150 interested contacts over the past six months, including people who want to share their own backyard space with other gardeners; and, that educating/mentoring children would play a role, particularly if sites are developed on school grounds.
Coun. Louise Hutchinson said she supports expanding community gardens, but questioned if the city had money to spend on the idea.
“If we have the space and you have the gardeners, hopefully we can have a marriage somewhere,” she said.
Ketcheson acknowledged community gardens won’t solve every food security issue, but said they’re a worthwhile endeavour nonetheless.
“Gardens won’t feed everyone, but they will feed someone,” he said.