KEGG gets okay for garden in McDougall Park
By Nowell Berg
On May 25, City of Kimberley council held its regular bi-monthly meeting.
Councillors Kyle Dalum, Kent Goodwin, Nigel Kitto, Darryl Oakley and Sandra Roberts were present along with Mayor Don McCormick. Coun. Jason McBain was absent.
Councillors attended the meeting in-person;, however, the press and public were not allowed in Council Chambers.
The meeting streamed live on the city’s YouTube channel. Watch the archive here.
The city received 39 written submissions regarding the proposed KEGG (Kimberley Edible Gardens and Greenhouse Society) community garden to be located in McDougall Park. Most of these residents were opposed to the garden for a variety of reasons.
Mayor McCormick, with councillors agreeing, pointed to the “top three issues” as raised by resident letters. Existing community gardens were an “unsightly mess.” While a majority of the residents were “in favour” of the community garden, they didn’t want it in “their neighbourhood.” Residents preferred it to be located somewhere else.
The final concern, which council acknowledged, was the “lack of consultation” about the proposed changes.
All councillors noted, and appreciated, the extensive feedback regarding the proposed garden and other possible uses for the park.
Mayor McCormick said, “Those who have taken the time to correspond, you have been heard.”
Several councillors were “very surprised” by the “emotional” nature of Townsite resident disapproval of the KEGG garden.
Coun. Kitto outlined his comments by reporting that in 12 years living in Townsite and the past term and a half as councillor, “At no point has anyone, or my neighbours, approached me with concerns around the use of McDougall Park.”
Regarding the opposition to the garden, Coun. Dalum said, “Due diligence wasn’t done with the Townsite residents.”
While he was in favour of the garden being placed at McDougall Park and said the “majority of fears [were] unfounded,” he would “vote against because of the lack of communication.”
Coun. Kitto wanted it known that McDougall Park “belongs to all residents not just Townsite folks.” Further, he suggested gardening “has proven to have many physical and mental health benefits.”
He said the lawn bowling club currently has a section of the park fenced off for the exclusive use of its member, and “that doesn’t bring any concern.”
Concluding, he told council the garden size represents four per cent of the total park area.
Responding to residents’ concerns about the proposed park looking messy and unkempt like other community gardens around town, Coun. Roberts said, “KEGG is not the group that abandoned the garden at Centennial Hall.”
She added that KEGG would be removing all material from the Centennial Garden and reusing as much of it as possible in McDougall. She said, “Let’s give these people a chance.” A comment shared by Coun. Oakley and Goodwin.
Councillors and the Mayor pointed to the License of Occupation Agreement with KEGG that gives the city the ability to terminate the agreement and have the garden removed.
After extensive discussion, council voted five to one in favour. Coun. Dalum voted against.
Public Hearing Set
With an agenda light on new business May 25, council set a public hearing for June 28 to seek input from residents regarding the re-zoning application from Joey Engert, who has made a request to change the zoning at 595-305th Ave.
In 2006, the land was zoned R-10 to allow for a 40-unit apartment building. The proponent requests an amendment to allow for “a unique and more diverse mix of housing types and sizes,” said Troy Pollock, Manager Planning Services.
He requested council set a public hearing for June 28 to allow for residents input on the proposal.
Council also authorized city staff to proceed with a notice to neighbours regarding building variances for two new family homes proposed for 108 Sunflower Drive and 108 Sullivan Drive.
The city will consider all feedback before making a final recommendation to council.
Housing Needs Report
Jada Basi from City Spaces presented to council a summary of a housing study done on Kimberley with a $20,000 grant from the UBCM Housing Needs Report Program.
According to chief administrative officer Scott Sommerville’s notes to council, “The report provides an overview of current housing availability, suitability, and affordability across the entire housing continuum.”
In summarizing the findings, Basi said, “More and more families are renters. They’re priced out of the home ownership market.” Adding, “Families are getting more squeezed in Kimberley” in terms of affordability.
She urged council and the city to look at “more diversity of house forms” over the next 10 years. The study forecast Kimberley would need upward of “220 housing units by 2030.”
Basi concluded, “Kimberley is a highly desirable place to live and people want to stay and don’t want to go.”
The Housing Needs Assessment Report is available on the City of Kimberley website.
Kimberley city council meets twice monthly starting at 7 p.m. Due to pandemic restrictions, the public is not allowed to attend Council Chambers.
The next scheduled Council meeting: June 14. It live streams on the City of Kimberley YouTube channel.
Lead image: City of Kimberley map showing location of the community garden in McDougall Park, taking up only four per cent of the space in the Townsite park. City of Kimberley map