Plans for a community garden in Central Saanich are moving forward, but some obstacles lie ahead.
Council last month approved plans from the Central Saanich Community Gardens Society to use part of the municipal-owned land located at 1233 Clarke Rd.
While the area appears as a park, it consists of five separate lots. The lot slated for rezoning is the only one of the five not zoned as P1 (general institutional) or P2 (parks and open space). Staff have recommended rezoning the lot in question to P1, which would trigger a public hearing.
Construction would occur in March and April of 2022, according to the society.
Sander Eijgenraam, society president, said the garden will feature at least 19 and possibly more garden beds and benefit in the community in several ways.
“(There) are quite a few people who don’t have access to a space, where they can grow their own food, where they can garden,” he said. “And these are often people in rental units or seniors in apartment buildings or people who may not have the means to go buy a house with a backyard.”
The society will lease the lot for two years.
“And that will hopefully be – we are pretty confident – enough time for us to get set up, construct the garden (and) get it running,” Eijgenraam said. “It’s a safeguard for the (municipality) that if things don’t work out, if we are not able to execute our plans and work with the neighbourhood and neighbours, they have the ability to (walk away from) it.”
The society estimates total project costs at $48,900 with money coming from several sources, including third-party grants. They have also applied for a $6,000 grant from the municipality.
“We are incurring some costs trying to get this off the ground,” said Eijgenraam. “Mainly, there are construction costs. The soaring price of lumber is most definitely not helping in that regard.” Some of the money will also go toward fundraising, he added.
The society is eligible for up to $20,000 in various grants, with fundraising currently underway. The society is also looking for individual donations and business support, he said.
“We think with the annual fees for the beds and the membership fees, we expect to break even, when it comes to costs. The two most significant costs will be water and then a couple of things like insurance.”
The proposed location emerged from a selection process that considered five sites. District staff noted it meets several criteria, including walkability, and would offer gardening opportunities to residents in high-density areas.
But this proximity has also raised concerns among residents, such as parking and rodent control. The society addressed these in its design and plans to have ongoing consultations. Eijgenraam said the society continues to welcome community input about all aspects of the garden through its Facebook page and its website, csgardens.org.
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