A garden plot here to stay for 2014

Lisa
Lisa Goudy
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Warren Byrne makes a presentation to executive committee at the June 16, 2014 meeting requesting an extension of removing a garden plot behind their home on city-owned property until the end of the growing season to harvest the garden.

Executive approves keeping it on city-owned land until end of season

A full house of citizens lined the Scoop Lewry Room Monday night.

Warren and Linda Byrne made their appeal to executive committee regarding a registered letter sent to them from bylaw enforcement that required the Byrnes to remove a garden plot from city-owned land behind their home at 1419 Stadacona St. W.

“We’re just asking if we could have an extension of removing the garden plot until Oct. 1 just to be able to harvest the garden,” said Warren Byrne. “I’ve got seed in the shed right now that I will use to seed it back to grass.”

At Monday’s meeting, executive committee unanimously endorsed the Byrne family to use the plot for gardening for 2014 only. Mayor Deb Higgins was absent from Monday’s meeting.

Bylaw No. 4423, the miscellaneous bylaw, states that nobody can put any building material on any park, boulevard or public place that would obstruct, cause damage or be harmful to the management of that space.

The matter first arose after city administration received a complaint regarding unauthorized use of city lands south of the 1200 to 1500 blocks of Stadacona Street West.

Seventeen violations were found. All were addressed immediately except for the garden plot. Others used the city-owned land to store vehicles, utility trailers and camper trailer.

“We bought our house in 2001. In 2002 I phoned city hall and asked if it would be a problem against the bylaw and I was verbally told then it wasn’t and that wouldn’t need anything in writing,” said Byrne.

“As long as we didn’t put a garage or a shed or a fence or a pool or anything on it, it was fine.”

One of the Byrnes’ supporters at the meeting was Jennie Wilson, the new community gardens co-ordinator for Yara Community Gardens. She said coming from Hunger in Moose Jaw and seeing many people who don’t have enough to get by, it would be a “real shame” to waste food already growing.

“While it is on city property, it has provided a meaningful service to their neighbourhood and there’s a school nearby,” she said. “As someone who supports people who want to garden and the value that provides the community, I just want to make it noted that I feel it’s important to let them finish out the season given that they’ve taken such good care of the area.”

Coun. Don Mitchell, who moved the motion, said the garden plot has been a “neighbourhood resource.”

“I understand the dilemma of the bylaw enforcement people where they’re taking it to the letter of the law, but I think we need to have some room for discretion,” he said.

“This is not an offensive action. It was sanctioned informally at least by the city and went on for a number of years … I don’t think it’s a black and white thing.”

Coun. Candis Kirkpatrick said since the plot is already planted, she would support the extension.

“I drove out there and it’s absolutely beautiful,” she said. “But I do have to say that I think we need to be careful. We need to be very clear … on why we are allowing this to happen because everyone has a reason why they’re doing what they’re doing.”

Organizations: Stadacona

Geographic location: Yara Community Gardens, Moose Jaw

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