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Community gardens added to OCP review

Date for OCP review unclear

Smithers town council has agreed to add additional community garden space to the upcoming review of the Official Community Plan (OCP).

In a letter to council, Scott McMillan, president of the Northern Root Community Garden, asked for four specific items to be considered.

1. Identify town-owned land that could be used for future community gardens.

2. Ensure community garden space is provided in new, large subdivisions approved on town-owned land.

3. Ensure that the publicly-owned land identified for potential future community gardens is managed in a way that is conducive to growing healthy food, such as retaining existing topsoil, minimizing compaction, and preventing the use of pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers.

4. Add objectives and policies in the upcoming Official Community Plan to increase the availablity of public and private land for community gardens.

Coun. Casda Thomas made the motion to add these items to upcoming consultations on the OCP.

During discussion on the motion, Coun. Greg Brown noted that in terms of time the Parks and Recreation Master Plan (PRMP) was coming up before the OCP and said he would like to see it included in that discussion.

However, CAO Alan Harris said the appropriate order of discussion is OCP and then PRMP.

“The OCP is the aspirational end,” he said. “When you get into the details of where and how many, that will come down to the Parks and Recreation plan.”

Coun. Frank Wray expressed a desire to have a discussion prior to the OCP to determine even the Town even wants to have it as an aspirational goal, noting, for example that the last time the discussion arose, the neighbours to a proposed garden objected.

Again Harris advised the appropriate time to raise issues and concerns was during the review, which involves public consultation.

The motion passed unanimously.

The review is expected to begin this year, but no hard and fast date is scheduled and it could end up being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thom Barker

About the Author: Thom Barker

After graduating with a geology degree from Carleton University and taking a detour through the high tech business, Thom started his journalism career as a fact-checker for a magazine in Ottawa in 2002.
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