March 18, 2014 - 11:07 AM
PENTICTON - Council jumped the gun on a decision not to renew a downtown teaching garden because they didn’t realize what was actually happening.
Councillors admitted to not knowing the truth about a community issue they voted against during previous council meetings — and not communicating with involved parties to notify them their project was being terminated.
Councillor John Vassilaki, who voiced his discontent with the garden's appearance during last week’s council meeting, said if he understood the difference of teaching and community gardens he wouldn’t have made those comments.
And the outcome would have been different if council knew what was going on. Now everyone is back to square one because council didn’t take the time to double check details of agenda matters.
Garden volunteers are there to show people how to grow produce and live a more self-sustaining lifestyle. This model is different from other community gardens around town that are weeded for more aesthetic purposes
Eva Durance and Kathryn McCourt, members of the Penticton Urban Agriculture Association, asked council to reconsider its decision from last month. They explained how the produce grown in the garden is donated to the Soupateria and needy persons. Over 400 pounds of fresh produce was donated from the last two seasons each.
Their efforts are part of the association’s plan to help with long-term food security and health of the community.
Durance said it took time for the garden to get going because a lot of maintenance needed to be done on the downtown lot for which they received a temporary use permit in 2010. It wasn’t until 2012 they really fell into stride and began producing substantial quantities of produce to give back to the community.
The association’s 51 members volunteered time and energy into the garden and the ladies said it would be a “pity” for all that hard work to go to waste now. They suggested a five year extension to their permit so they could continue their non-profit work.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day, and they had slave labour,” said Durance.
Council were willing to discuss compromises and reconsider permit renewal after they were enlightened by what was actually happening. Council applauded the efforts of the gardeners and even retracted comments that were made during previous council meetings.
To contact the reporter for this story, e-mail Meaghan Archer at email@example.com, or call 250-488-3065.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014