Sylvain Ward was excited when he heard Moncton city council took a step this week toward allowing people to grow food in their front yards.
"It was amazing." he said. "I was thrilled, I jumped on my phone and texted all my friends, my garden warrior friends that helped me."
Last spring, Ward designed a garden for his front yard complete with wooden arches and planters. He grew mostly beans and peas. The arches save space, he said, because they allow vertical growth.
But last June, someone complained to the city, and Ward was told the garden would have to go. Under the zoning bylaw, his garden wasn't consistent with Moncton's definition of "landscaping."
In the end, Ward was allowed to keep the garden, while the city did research on gardens and urban agriculture in other Canadian municipalities.
Bill Budd, the director of planning and development for the city, said the zoning bylaw wasn't clear.
"It never really provided any guidance on gardens, vegetables, planter boxes, the sort of things you're seeing people doing." he said.
On Tuesday night, council approved first reading of a bylaw change that would expand the definition of landscaping to include herbs, plants, fruits or vegetables, garden boxes, trellises and arches.
"Halifax allows vegetables and fruits as part of their definition of landscaping, so it really was quite an easy fix just amending the landscaping definitions, so hopefully that's all that's required." Budd said.
Ward said last year's hard work means he's ready for this season.
"I don't need to change anything cause they've allowed archways, garden boxes, every edible plant, vegetables, fruit, basically everything you can do in a garden at the back — this is perfect," he said.
One reason Ward planted the garden in the front yard last year was to get outside and help his family feel less isolated during the pandemic.
"I knew maybe three people around in the neighbourhood. Now maybe 20, 25, and they stop when they see us outside and they talk," Ward said.
Ward also feels a sense of pride growing his own food.
"If you go at the grocery store you have seen the price jump for everything, and by growing stuff here, our food here, we know that it's local, it's safe without any chemicals, because I know what I place in my soil.
"And it's basically free or close to free," he said.
Ward plans to start a Facebook group for his neighbourhood so people can exchange ideas. He's heard from many people interested in doing something similar.
Bylaw still needs to be passed
The proposed bylaw has been sent to the city's planning advisory committee, and a public hearing will be held on May 3.
Ward is hopeful the process goes smoothly, and the bylaw is passed, because he's ready to start gardening again.
"I already have seedlings inside that are started," he said.