At the April 14 special council meeting, council discussed various topics related to the gardens and minutes from the meeting show the community gardens will remain closed based on requirements for public health and safety.
A letter from the View Royal Community Park Garden Society president Ron Wedman expressed that the growing season has begun and that the society is willing to help “sort out and refine issues related to physical distancing and other procedures to prevent the spread of the virus.”
A letter from Jennifer Freeman, a food garden educator and consultant at the Westshore Centre for Learning as well as a member of the Victoria Urban Food Table Advisory Board, also asked View Royal to re-open the gardens.
“Community gardens are considered an essential service and they are a huge sense of security for people who use them,” Freeman’s letter says. “Having access to your own garden can be a safer experience of providing healthy fruits and vegetables for oneself during this time, with less people touching them and more distance between users.”
Freeman also offered suggestions to keep gardens safe such as closing the tool shed, designating alternate days for users and posting signage to remind others about physical distancing requirements.
Freeman points out that other municipalities, including the City of Victoria, are keeping community gardens open.
A letter on behalf of Paula Mueller and Lynn Freeman, individuals with a community garden plot in View Royal, says the plots are well-spaced and that physical distancing is easy to do in the gardens.
“In the two years that I have had my plot, I rarely have seen anyone there at the same time,” Mueller writes.
She says many seniors, including herself, rely on gardens to help them out financially.
A Facebook post from Mayor David Screech from April 4 says he was “astounded by the phone calls and e-mails” he received in reaction to the closure of community gardens.
It goes on to say Screech went on a “fact finding mission” and found the garden beds are 39 inches apart, under the six foot physical distancing mandate set by the province.
“Frankly, I don’t care what other jurisdictions have done,” Screech says in the post.
“Once again I am confident that by the time gardening season begins that we can figure out some protocols and policies to see them open. Please allow us the time to do that.”