The city is moving forward on its plans for use of the Garden City Lands, which comprise about 55.2 hectares (136.5 acres) of land.
Because the site is located within the Agricultural Land Reserve and zoned as agricultural land, the city must submit applications to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to use it for non-farm purposes. A number of applications have already been submitted and approved, including portions used for Farm Fest and community gardens.
At next week’s parks, recreation, and cultural services committee meeting, councillors will discuss a proposed application to the ALC that covers all remaining improvements included in the Garden City Lands Park Development Plan.
The full plan includes more ways to travel through the area, such as designated paths and raised wood boardwalks. Additional seating and trash receptacles, as well as more signage and pedestrian-level lighting, are also proposed.
The northwest corner of the site will feature a picnic area and children’s play structure. Public art will be located throughout the Garden City Lands, and a tall lookout tower will offer visitors a 360-degree view of the area.
To support the additional use, more parking areas will be constructed. Public washrooms will be necessary, as well as municipal services like water and electricity. Electric vehicle charging stations are under consideration for one parking lot. The city also intends to establish a regular weekly or bi-weekly farmers’ market.
The Garden City Lands Agricultural and Ecology Centre will be the hub, supporting agricultural and interpretation activities and bog health and rehabilitation, as well as providing a commercial kitchen.
About 9,570 cubic metres of soil is needed at various locations on the site, which also requires the city to obtain the ALC’s specific approval. The soil deposition portion of the project is expected to take no more than two years.
Further farm-related activities are also planned, although these do not require additional approval. These activities include work by Kwantlen Polytechnic University students in the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems program.
The 200 new temporary above-ground community garden plots will eventually transition to in-ground plots. Larger farm plots may also be made available to local farmers. Bee hives are under consideration, and small livestock like pigs, goats, or chickens are also possible in the future.
Council must endorse the application before it is sent to the ALC. It will be discussed at the April 26 parks, recreation, and cultural services committee meeting, which is available online for the public to view live.
Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel