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Woodman Park community garden and greenhouse approved

City of BrantfordWoodman Park community garden and greenhouse approved

Despite a number of questions and concerns, Brantford City Council has ratified a motion for the greenhouse planned to reside at the Earl Haig community garden, be moved to Woodman Park Community Centre at the council meeting on Tuesday, March 28, 2023. 

Plans for a greenhouse and learning centre for the Earl Haig community garden was approved in June 2022, but a resolution brought forward by Councillor Samwell in December to support the project by waiving certain fees, ended with council members moving a referral to have City Staff look into an alternative location for the site.

On March 7, council members received a report with a plan to move the project out of Ward 5 and into Ward 4 at the Woodman Park Community Centre – a move that will cost the city $400,000.

Councillor Mandy Samwell inquired about the timeline of the move, specifically when the Woodman Park location would be up and running, and when the Earl Haig location would be decommissioned, as well as if there were any alternative uses for the space being considered.

“Citizens of Ward 5 thought that it [garden and greenhouse] was in its forever home in Earl Haig,” she said. “If this passes tonight it would move it out of Ward 5 -and Eagle Place and the Downtown specifically – would be without a garden that they count on.”

Inderjit Hans, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer noted that the garden at Woodman Park would look to be completed by the fall.

“The decommissioning of the site will be in discussion with Equal Grounds for that, depending on the growing season and what they are able to accomplish in 2023,” he said. “I don’t have any comment yet for an alternative site, as we were asked to bring those options back.”

Samwell’s ward mate, Brian Van Tilborg added to the conversation by reading off several emails from both real estate agents and residents of the area who purchased their homes with consideration of having a community garden nearby and noted how it benefits them and the neighbourhood.

“Volunteers chose locations that work – we have locations that don’t work, and they chose the locations that work in an area of need.”
“I just want to remind everyone that it is a loss in Ward 5, of assets that are very viable and valuable, and in a location that works and is appreciated by not just the old [community] but the new,” he added.

Van Tilborg noted that there are currently no other plans for the Earl Haig community garden site and didn’t understand why it couldn’t stay in operation as there is no extra cost in keeping it.

 “I think Ward 4 and that area deserves both a garden and maybe a greenhouse, and I think we do too – I don’t think we should be the losers in this,” Van Tilborg said.

Councillor Linda Hunt clarified with Hans if Tuesday night’s approval would solely be for the Woodman Park garden and its greenhouse to be approved, and not for the decommission of Earl Haig. She also asked if the details regarding the decommissioning of the Earl Haig garden would come in a report at a later date.

Hans confirmed that the report from City Staff included the decommission of the Earl Haig garden in the future.

“For clarity, once the site at Woodman is up and running, operations would shift there, and then once we have met with our stakeholders in terms of that space [Earl Haig], we would be moving towards decommissioning – just not this summer because there is an opportunity to grow as the park is being renovated.”

Hans confirmed with Councillor Dan McCreary that should there be any delays in the Woodman project, the Early Haig garden could still be used on a season-to-season basis until higher used for the land comes up.

Council voted 8-3 in favour of the alternative site for the community garden to go ahead at Woodman Park Community Centre, with Councillors Samwell, Van Tilborg and Carpenter opposed.

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