Community gardens are uber popular in Vancouver, and the number of developer-started gardens is on the rise. Land developers, like Onni, are taking their idle land and turning it into temporary community garden space. The gardeners have to move on as soon as the development company is ready to start building, but until then AT LEAST they have a plot. I think that Vancouver is at the front of the pack on this one – I haven’t been able to find examples from other cities. Granville magazine recently wrote:
Private developers have caught on to the trend. The development company ONNI turned a vacant site at Seymour and Pacific streets in the heart of Yaletown into a community garden. Seventy-nine plots were made available on a first-come first-served basis to community groups and residents to grow food on a temporary basis, until the site is developed within one to three years. Mike Clark, ONNI development manager, was surprised at how much interest the garden generated and how quickly the plots were taken. “We had overwhelming response. The lineup of people is unbelievable – hundreds of people pounding down the doors trying to get some dirt on their hands,” Clark says. “We have learned there is a major need for gardening facilities in downtown. Everyone is going condo-living, but people are just dying to get their hands dirty and they don’t have the opportunity; they don’t have a backyard.”
The Vancouver Public Space Network (VPSN) was involved in the initial start-up of the Onni Garden, and now we’re taking on the new garden at the corner of Burard and Davie Street – Davie Street Community Garden. So that means that I’ll be heading up getting this garden off the ground and into the hands of the community.
The incentive for developers to start gardens? BC Tax Assessment will asses property taxes at a lower rate if the pre-developed land is being used for a community or public purpose (i.e. a garden).