Council taught a lesson by downtown teaching garden

This downtown teaching garden was nixed for licence renewal but is back on council table for discussion.

PENTICTON - After admitting not enough attention was paid to detail, city council will readdress renewing a licence-to-use permit for a downtown teaching garden.

Council voted against an agreement renewal with the Penticton Urban Agriculture Association to reissue a permit allowing the gardening group to harvest produce on a specified lot downtown.

The Ellis and Nanaimo Street lot has been a classroom for residents interested in learning how to grow produce in an urban environment. Starting in 2010, the association didn’t get it’s stride going until 2012, but they have seen improving results since then.

Over the last two years, they have donated over 400 pounds each year to the Soupateria and local Food Bank.

The association’s former and current presidents, Eva Durance and Kathryn McCourt spoke as a delegation at city council Monday night, and said it would be a “pity” to end the project, and lose all the time and energy that has already gone into the garden.

The speakers said they sent letters to council and staff regarding their concerns and desire to speak with council about the permit, but council never responded. Mayor Garry Litke said a letter dated January 26, 2014 was forwarded to council from Director of Development Services, Anthony Haddad, who originally received the e-mail, but Durance and McCourt never received a response.

The speakers explained their project and gave reasons why the permit should be renewed, and members of council agreed that they were too quick to shut down the project, a result caused by their lack of attention paid to incoming mail and agenda matters.

Now that all council members understand what the garden is doing for the community, they will take the issue to an in-camera session for further discussion.

The initial three-year permit for the property expires June 9, 2014. The cost for a licence-to-use permit was previously set at one dollar. Anyone who has a licence-to-use for City of Penticton land has to pay the licence fee and any lease-hold improvements they make.

To contact the reporter for this story, e-mail Meaghan Archer at marcher@infotelnews.ca, or call 250-488-3065.


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