Community garden endorsement stalled for now

Lack of councillors present at committee meeting causes postponement of garden's go-ahead

Cowichan Green Community’s wanted endorsement of a community garden for Lake Cowichan from the town’s council was stalled last week, mainly due to lack of councillors present.

Coun. Bob Day is championing the garden vision alongside Judy Stafford from CGC and both were present at last Tuesday’s Finance and Administration Committee meeting at the town hall to do so once again.

On the night, Day and Stafford were hoping the table would give the go-ahead to start official planning of the garden after Stafford and her colleagues had determined the sit for the garden at Centennial Park.

But with only Mayor Ross Forrest and Coun. Jayne Ingram the only other council members present, the table decided to prevent the endorsement for the time being.

Councillors Frank Hornbrook and Tim McGonigle were both absent.

“We’ve talked about seeing where the community garden would go and Cowichan Green Community came out to Centennial Park to determine that,” said Day. “I’m determined to go the route of a soccer pitch and two baseball diamonds (alongside at the park) if I’m still around. The garden would be approximately 100 feet from Point Ideal Road, there is a clear area down there towards the catholic church. This group is not going to ask for the town for money. If the town wants to help, then that’s awesome.

“I hope people get in and see there is room there to expand (once it opens up). We might then come across people who want to give this project a little bit of money. There is lots of space around there for a pond and a dog park. It’s good to have a vision.”

Day said he predicted the garden would be 300 feet in length and 65 to 75 feet deep.

“They (Cowichan Green Community) are asking for our blessing to move towards allocating this. It’s so they can get the planning process underway. Island Health has all but verbally agreed $10,000 in funding. Cowichan Green Community needs to do a couple of sessions of community consultation before March 15. We can ask for donations of Cedar posts and wire fencing. We can maybe talk to Home Depot to see if they’ll put us in their budget.”

Ingram took the cautious route in the discussion.

“We haven’t budgeted this year for public works to be spending money down there, for example to put pipes in,” she said. “Where is that money going to come from? It’s great that Island Health has that money but we can’t run without all the backup. I think we’re taking the cart before the horse here.”

Cowichan Green Community must have all the planning done by March 15 of next year so Island Health can be sure of allocating its money.

“If council does not wish to see this move forward, then the conversation is over,” said Day.

Ingram explained it is “hard to endorse something when I have no other colleagues here.”

Mayor Ross Forrest confirmed a vote on endorsement will either be done at the next Public Works Committee meeting or the Parks, Recreation and Culture Committee meeting.

Both are in August.

“We will put off a vote of endorsing this,” said the mayor. “Our hands are tied here tonight. The sooner we do this the better though and we could put it on our regular council agenda as well. Our superintendent of public works could go and have a look at the site in the meantime. It’s a piece of land that’s not being used right now or utilized.”