Community garden not dead yet despite grants setback

Cowichan Green Community may team up with Town of Lake Cowichan to build new community garden

Councillor Bob Day

The prospect of a community garden for Lake Cowichan and the Cowichan Lake area could still be on the cards.

Cowichan Green Community recently submitted a proposal to the town’s council for the garden in order to “support Island Health’s goal to provide innovation solutions and multi-stakeholder partnerships that enhance community capacity to meet the health needs of Cowichan Lake area residents by creating community gardens.

The proposal is welcome news for Coun. Bob Day who has been driving the idea of a community garden and urban food forest at Centennial Park for months.

Day and the town were recently turned down in grant applications for the projects which were part of the Centennial Park Revitalization plan.

“We were unsuccessful in our grants for the revitalization of Centennial Park but I still feel as though it’s a very valuable next step,” said Day. “I told the public I wasn’t going to stop there and I still don’t know when to push back. I would still like to do it so that it is of no cost to the town or the taxpayer, so through sponsorship and corporate grants. Our only timeline for this is March next year with the budget. The Centennial Park project isn’t just a place to play baseball or walk the dog, it’s a place for everybody. It could be a miniature Stanley Park.”

Judy Stafford was on hand at last Tuesday’s Parks, Recreation and Culture Committee meeting at the town hall to give details of the proposal.

“Island Health approached us about a month ago on doing a project out in Lake Cowichan,” she said. “Bob is still driving the grants and more money will come. Community consultation is important still. We are offering to do events that will get the community excited about the project.”

Stafford explained that if the garden was to come about, all community consultation and design will have to be done by March 15 of next year.

“It will be quick but it can be done,” she said. “It’s really timely but would be a good step to getting a food forest down the road. Island Health want people to participate.”

Mayor Ross Forrest still believes determining a concrete location for the garden will be key.

“Identifying the exact location is the most important thing here,” said the mayor.

Day finished by suggesting Stafford meet with the town’s superintendent of public works, Nagi Rizk, to discuss and potentially determine the location.

That will happen in the next couple of weeks.