BARRHEAD - The Barrhead Community Garden Society will get some assistance from the town in setting up its new location.
On Feb. 28, councillors approved a small list of requests from the society to help them relocate to their new location behind the Pembina West Co-op Food store totalling roughly $19,600.
The garden’s previous location was on the west side of town, near the two senior living facilities, Shepherd's Care and Barrhead Continuing Care.
It is worth mentioning that council earmarked $20,000 in the 2023 capital budget to help with the move.
Chief administrative officer Edward LeBlanc said he recently met with representatives from the society at their request, adding they came to the meeting with a short grocery list of items they wanted the municipality to help them with, including the construction of a useable trail/road to the garden from 47 Avenue along with the creation of a small parking lot, the loan of a small port–a-potty, assistance with hauling topsoil, compost, manure for the new site, the relocation of an existing traffic gate at the end of 46 Street to another location further north to facilitate access to the new trail and three new signs.
Council approved the creation of the trail/road and parking lot, the port–a-potty, transportation of the soil and reimbursement of three signs but declined the gate move.
LeBlanc noted the road/trail would be about 12 feet wide and about 400 feet long, and as it would be on private property, it would not have to be constructed to municipal standards.
"It would consist of removing some topsoil, replacing it with clay and layering 250 tonnes of one and half inch gravel on top," he said, adding public works estimates the construction would cost approximately $15,000.
Administration in the public agenda package estimated the cost of donating a port–a-potty at $1,800, the hauling of 200 tonnes of topsoil and other materials by municipal staff an estimated 9.6 kilometres at roughly $2,200, and the signage cost at $620.
Coun. Dave Sawatzky asked what the duration of the term was and if it was a written or verbal contract, noting it was important that the society have a formal agreement before the municipality went forward with any work.
In a separate interview, society spokesperson Marilyn Flock confirmed they signed a 20-year lease with the landowners for $1.
Coun. Dausen Kluin asked if this was the final request for the society, adding he was concerned that they could potentially approach council again in another six months.
LeBlanc replied that when the municipality is approached by any organization, there is always the potential for them to come back to council with another request, but he did not feel that would be the case with the garden.
Coun. Rod Klumph said that he supported most of the requests and the community garden, noting that its existence benefited the community, but was wary about relocating the traffic gate and believed the society should be responsible for its own signs.
Later in the meeting, LeBlanc recommended that the gate not be relocated, stating it helps control traffic flow in that area of town.
Sawatzky also asked if the County of Barrhead was contributing anything to the project, saying he believed when the garden was first created in 2013, it was a three-way partnership between the municipalities and the society.
Klumph said there are a lot of projects the society needs to do to get the garden running that they did not ask the town to help with, specifically singling out the outside fencing and moving the gazebo and storage sheds, which they may have approached the county for assistance with.
Mayor Dave McKenzie clarified that the municipalities were not partners but contributors, saying it was an important distinction.
Coun. Ty Assaf said he would like to know what the county's contribution will be to the project before making a final decision on granting the request.
"I'm OK with the trail and port–a-potty, but if the county was originally responsible for the hauling costs, why can't they do it again?" he asked. "I would like to know how involved they are in the project."
Klumph agreed, suggesting they should ask the county to split the cost of the requests, but was worried that they may decline as only a minority of county residents would use the gardens.
LeBlanc said he would contact the county on their involvement, but cautioned council that the society may have already or are in the process of approaching county council with a similar series of requests.
"But at the end of the day, this is the request from the society that you have to make a decision on," he said.
Assaf agreed, noting that although he would like to know what the county will be contributing before making a final decision, the town had already set aside funds for the project in the 2023 capital budget and their requests are under what is budgeted.
Barry Kerton, TownandCountryToday.com