Vision 'chickens out' on Sunset Beach community garden

Post by Mike Klassen in ,


There were plenty of angry birds residents who didn't want a beachfront veggie patch

We've just learned that the Vancouver Park Board has rejected the idea of a community garden on the prime location of Sunset Beach near the entrance of False Creek. A letter from Bill Manning, the VPB's Manager, Aboriculture & Horticulture went out just an hour ago confirming this.

Thank you for your feedback regarding a proposal by YMCA Connections and its partners to establish an intercultural community garden at Sunset Beach Park.

The Vancouver Park Board sought public input into the proposal. Although the majority of comments received were not in favour of this particular proposal, many respondents supported the concept of community gardening in the downtown peninsula.

YMCA Connections, therefore, has decided to withdraw its proposal for a community garden at the Sunset Beach location.

An information meeting scheduled for October 28 has now been cancelled.

The YMCA is now exploring alternate sites with the Park Board and other community partners.

Thank you again for your interest in parks.


Bill Manning
Vancouver Park Board

Back on September 30th we reported that the Park Board had slipped in a sign on the area where the proposed private garden plots were going to be placed. But we also noted that no one could actually read the sign. When local residents caught on they made their views known. The sign was almost immediately removed, with the promise of a new more visible sign to go up.

The garden was a continuing attempt to build up the image of Vancouver becoming even more "green" under Vision Vancouver than under the previous 20 years of governments who have committed to reduce the city's carbon footprint. The garden's funding was provided in part from YWCA under the condition that the prospective gardeners take workshops on topics like diversity and antihomophobia.

The local reaction was not positive at all, with many wondering why public space that is currently available to all now would be subdivided into space for some.

This is the second time Vision Vancouver have "chickened out" due to unhappiness in the West End. In September, the Mayor and Vision withdrew the proposal for a STIR project in the community subject to further consultation as a result of a massive backlash, including a petition signed by over 11,000 renters and owners in the downtown peninsula.

- post by Mike


You can expect a lot more back pedaling (pun intended) on this and other issues as our merry band of civic socialists realize we are winding down this term. Nothing like a pending election to clear the senses. They will be trying everything possible to avoid pissing off there core constituency and other voters. This backtrack is the first of many to come. Just you watch. Ha ha ha ha. This is all too funny.

'We realize there are some who don't like bike lanes, but the majority favour them so we're installing them as a trial'

'Boo! You hate the public you elitists!'

'We realize there are some who do like the idea of this community garden, but the majority don't so we're withdrawing this idea'


Under what scenario could they possibly do anything right?

Vision was going to ram this through until websites like this and the media got wind of it. Nobody in my neighbourhood wanted it. They had terrible signage and were just hoping they could quietly slip it in under the radar. Thank god public pressure made them backdown. Now if we could only kill the Stir program!!!!!!!!!

In response to the person named boo hoo?? All I can say is there is nothing this government could do that would change my opinion of them. Nothing. I make no apologies for that. They are all nutty. All my west end neighbours are going to flood the poll booths next fall and turf all the buggers out. Time for a change.

I will never vote for Vision Vancouver or Gregor Robertson again. Once is enough. These guys are toast and if an election were held tomorrow they would be given their walking papers. Not soon enough as far as I'm concerned. This is another nail in their political coffin.

I agree!!!! Vision has lost my vote

I read this: Vision chickens out on Sunset Beach community garden

And then I read this:

YMCA Connections, therefore, has decided to withdraw its proposal for a community garden at the Sunset Beach location.

I just can't reconcile the two.

Me too. I voted Vision cause I thought they represented a progressive alternative. No more. I probably will stay at home and not even vote out of protest. I think a community garden there would have been a GREAT idea. Why did they back away? Just cause a few NIMBYs complained. Give me a break.

ha ha ha ha ha ha. Spartikus thinks the YWCA pulled back their application simply because a few people complained. Not a chance buddy. Vision realized they goofed up and most likely told the Y they wouldn't be able to support this.

Why can't you Vision people just admit when you get it wrong? it's this type of arrogance which will bring about the massive defeat of your government next November. Can't come soon enough.

Not using your vote isn't a form of apathy is the problem.
How is it Nimby, when a small(elite) group takes away space from the entire taxpaying public? I don't follow your logic. A beach is Pubic space, the garden was only for a certain group of people... do you know what Nimby means?

The garden would have provided fresh vegetables for a half dozen families per year. How can you even think of opposing this? Have you even heard of global warming??? Right now it's just enviro-unfriendly grass which needs to be mowed every week by a diesel powered lawn mower. How good is that?

At least if it was turned into a vegetable producing garden, it would be sustainable. I'm so disappointed in the Park Board's decision I can barely control myself. This is now going to remain a patch of grass that almost NOBODY uses. And there is tons of other grass they could use if they really wanted to.

Sadly Erica, you really don't get it...

I most certainly get it. It's you that's living in the dinosaur age. We should get rid of all the lawns in this city. Do you know that cutting lawns every years adds over 10 million tons of needless carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Ever wonder why the planet is getting warmer?

Whereas food producing gardens don't need to be mowed. Get it? They don't need to be mowed! All that grass at Sunset Beach is just sitting there doing nothing, instead of feeding a half dozen families in the West End. Yeah, I get it alright. It's you that wants to support global warming at any cost. The park board were gutless on this one and should have just moved ahead with their plans.

funny how you resort to name calling when someone doesn't agree with you....the sky is not falling dear.

Democracy cubed....peace out

What's arrogant is thinking 'you vision people' are all one unified mass. Or that people who aren't adamently opposed to this are 'vision people'. Or that him pointing out the incongruities in the argument makes him a 'vision person'. Or... who's arrogant again?

Erica, please do your homework before making such absurd statements.

Lawns actually have at least 3 environmental benefits:

1. When the heat is on, grass helps keep you cool. While street or sidewalk temperatures may reach 35 degrees C. or more, grass remains at approximately 24 degrees C. This means that the front lawns on a block of 8 houses perform the same cooling work as 70 tons of air-conditioning - enough to cool off 25 homes. Thge cooling functions of grass also reduces the "urban heat island" effect caused by high density closely packed together buildings in areas such as downtown Vancouver.

2. Grass removes carbon dioxide from the air and produces oxygen in return. 625 square feet (25 ft x 25 ft) of grass supplies all the oxygen a person needs for one day. An average home lawn of 2500 square feet produces enough oxygen for 4 people a day. In comparison, it takes one 100' tree to provide the same amount of oxygen for 4 people.

3. Grass controls soil erosion by knitting the soil together, trapping runoff water, and eliminating many of the problems caused by dust and mud. It's also one of the more efficient water savers found it nature, since a healthy lawn absorbs rainfall six times more effectively than does a wheat field. Since Vancouver's climate is that of a temperate rain forest, it is important to control soil erosion and excess surface water flow.

While you may have your personal dislike for grass, please don't use the environment as an excuse to justify your position. How would your vegetable garden for a few people provide any of the above positive environmental benefits?

"This is the second time Vision Vancouver have "chickened out" due to unhappiness in the West End."

Mike, if you think Vision is backing down we disagree. The withdrawal & the Mayor's invitation to High Tea in the brand spanking new lunch room [which by the way is still shrouded, unfinished & empty] are just excuses so they can say 'our committee has recommended we stay the course &, we've really tried to consult with the little people, we really have but, gosh darn we just have to keep going'. Besides they've got to put these little irritants to bed quickly so there is enough time for voters to slumber off listening to Vision lullabyes next year & be reprogrammed.

and how much carbon would have been emitted to produce the chain link fence around this garden and how many months of the year would it have been producing food - 6? 8? And what are the odds that these gardens would have been vandalized?
And how much would it have cost to replant the grass after it was found to be a total failure?

Erica, we all want to save the planet but really... do you buy coffee every morning in a paper cup? Let's start there.

Wouldnt it be funny if someone started growing pot in these gardens.

City Caucus you do a heckuva service here - it was thanks to your Sept. coverage and a fellow commentor who included a contact for comments that I did do just that. Got my same PB reply earlier today. If only it was this easy to get thru to the thick skulls at City Hall.

Who else reading is still burning & irate that these irresponsible twits have over-spent the budget by 20 MIL yet we must hear Gregor tell Global news he's 'helping' us poor taxpayers by vowing not to raise taxes. But no, he has "no regrets" how he's wasted our $$.

Hey Greggie - how about being smarter with our dollars in the FIRST place?!

The Thought of The Evening

“Dear Mrs. Chicken, I am writing to let you know that your son - Chicken Little, is well and clucking. Still. He’s got accustomed to our organic feed and he enjoys very much his daily free runs throughout our lovely community garden. His feathers are fluffed every morning by a Registered Fluffing Practitioner, with a great attention being given to his straight up walk and posture. Every evening, before retiring for the night into his LEED Gold certified Coop, he reads to the little chicks from Julia Child’s ‘Brave Chicken’. Stories of great interest to them, stories of bravery, camaraderie and gastronomy, like ‘Poached in Butter not in Vain’, ‘Roasted but not Forgotten’ or my personal favourite ‘A Chicken in Kiev’...”

If you didn’t know, there are people out there, mostly Vision voters who write these types of letters to the ‘relatives’, right before preparing their beloved, in a special ceremonial bowl called ‘Soup de coup for the Soul’.
The equivalent of a Guilt Journey dispensation.

As for the Global Warming...what does it all mean? Green Lingo for this Millenium. The question is: Who’s buying?
Not me.
Unfortunately, some do. Like Erica!

Better watch this:

One more thing. In case you are one of those sensitive guys, stop giving names to your chicken. But if you must, give them instead the names of those you dislike. Who would say 'No' to a Geoff Cacciatore, a Gregor Marsala, or a Penny Alfredo?
Not me.

We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

I live in the west end and did not support the garden at Sunset Beach. I respect the programming the YWCA is proposing, but not on park land enjoyed by all citizens. Sunset Beach isn't a patch of abandoned grassland; it is actually quite heavily used by individuals and sports groups representative of all the diversity of our local and the wider community. Most other community gardens are cooperative efforts involving both public and private concerns and the YWCA certainly has a solid history of consultation of both these sectors so should have no difficulty finding an appropriate alternate location.

Well Tim, if you truly think that's true perhaps you should suggest that Mike or Daniel phone the YMCA and find out if they withdrew their proposal under pressure from the City.

I believe they call such things journalism.

I would support you, in such a call.

thank you all. sanity prevails.

To anyone who thinks that either Daniel or myself are not fans of urban agriculture, you only need to see the amount of effort we both put into gardening each year. It's actually one of the few non-political distractions I have to keep me, er, balanced.

I've written here recently about what I think the pros and cons of taxpayer-funded urban agriculture are - see

Community gardens in Vancouver, it cannot be argued, add any significant produce to the city's food supply. Community gardens do one thing well - create and maintain healthy communities. Secondly they serve an important role of educating people - especially youth - about real, unprocessed food.

The Vancouver Park Board's well thought out guidelines make it clear that these gardens must be community-driven first. While it's great to have a third party help to cover costs for irrigation, fencing, plots, etc. it's highly preferable that we are not removing from the public realm to create gardens that only a few dozen can access.

This is why gardens provided in existing underused (non-park) space, or private property are best. Think of the back alley behind Nelson Park, for example. What used to be parking is now gardens that bring people together.

I respect Erica's argument that garden plots are superior to grass. I've even removed my front lawn and planted a full flower garden in its place. However, we cannot look down our noses at lawns, which do keep our cities green and cool in the summer months.

The most troublesome aspect of the Sunset Beach garden is that there was an attempt to sneak it in with poor signage and lack of public notice. I hope that YWCA and the VPB can find a new plot in the West End that people can gather together and grow plants that doesn't take valuable beachfront away from all who want to use it.

@Spartikus you are looking a but silly now. I'd stop while you're ahead. Why can't you just admit that you and your vision buddies made a mistake an move on? It's this kind of arrogance that's starting to stick to you guys. It will be hard to shake it off in a few months during the election campaign.

Jason, your argument loses all steam when you say 'your vision buddies' as though it's one uniform mass. Why do you (and others) do that?

Mike, your personal gardening aside, the language you use is...interesting. If they rammed this through there'd be bitching and moaning about how vision doesn't care about the people and they are hell bent on fulfilling their hippy elitist agenda. And when they withdraw this proposal due to public pressure, they're 'chickening out'.

Why isn't this titled 'Vision responds to public input, cancels proposed garden' or something similar? I ask again, is there any situation where they could do the right thing?

The Courier article on the story has a bit more useful information.

Given Mike's sensible comments about un-used or under-utilized space being the best choice for community gardens, the latest suggestion for locating the park, in an unused Second Beach parking lot, will no doubt come as welcome news.

oops, should read 'locating the garden' not park.

Interesting subliminal slip Chris. Are you sure the original is not what you really meant?

I agree with Cap & Mike, I'm sure the 'Y' will find a better home for their green initiative, &, not in a public park or park parking lot.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar Bill. Do you think an unused parking lot is unsuitable for a community garden? If so, why?

Simple answer boohoo, nope.

Gregor has dug himself a very large grave, I doubt he'll get out of it now. If I was his political advisor I'd be telling him to get out of the bulldozers way because he's going to get flattened come next November.

I see someone has 'made a statement' regarding the Hornby bike lane.

Global news flashed it on the noon hour coverage.

Someone wrote into the drying cement (now dry) on one of the barriers:

'The Mayor's Political Gravestone'

If we're looking for under utilized/un-used space for community gardens, I would suggets the space between the Mayor's ears.

See my previous comments on other related posts & to answer your ?, I repeat: "I agree with Cap & Mike, I'm sure the 'Y' will find a better home for their green initiative, &, not in a public park or park parking lot.".

So you're saying whether or not this current administration does the correct thing or not, it's too late, you'll find a way to discredit/mock/dimiss it.

Who's unreasonable again?

OK Bill, I understand you don't think the parking lot is a good idea? But why not? If it's not being used, isn't a community garden an easy way to let residents have an opportunity for low-cost, all ages use of park space in an area that's sitting empty?

No I'm saying this mayor and his council have lost all respect and credibility. Time for Gregor to resign and move on to "greener" pastures. You can't bully the citizens of a city for 2 years and then expect them to take you seriously on anything.

That is not unreasonable.

I think it all depends on who's yard stick we're using to define what "not being used" means. Heck by some people's opinions we could build a garden all the way up the East side of the Burrard Street Bridge Bike Lane. Seeing as that is about to not be used until the summer as well.

Or by Vision's opinion we could also plunk one in the parking spots in front of 950 Drake, seeing as that's not being used either. Except by little old ladies who wouldn't vote for Gregor if their lives depended on it.

Well, there's a lot of personal feeling in your response, I won't go there.

But here we have vision responding to the public and withdrawing the garden. And the headline reads 'Vision chickens out'. I mean come on... Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

I've posted this numerous times boohoo, it's not the content of the decisions that Gregor et al make that gets people most furious. It's how they go about making them. Posting a small billboard (that's barely legible) announcing plans to do something unconventional appears to be city hall quietly making changes and then posting things so that they can later say "We posted this sign! We told you about it!"

I know that in the normal course of city business they can't hold a town-hall for every rezoning application or any minor adjustment to streets or utilities.

But when unconventional things are in the works, it's only appropriate to do things with the utmost care and a maximum amount of public input.

The big ones right now are Bike Lanes, Westend STIR and this public garden. You can't go to people and tell them "here's where we're going to put it, you tell us what we can do to make it more acceptable to you." That's not consultation. You come to people and solicit advice on the project as a whole. The 5 W's. Who, What, Where, When, Why.

Elementary school kids are taught this, it's that simple.

This mayor, council, park board and school board have proven time and again that they view public consultation as theatrics. They are not interested in what the public have to say. So the public has been getting louder and louder. The fight has been won twice now. So it is fair to say they "chickened out" because normally they put up their blinders and go ahead with whatever they want.

Everyone makes a big deal about this sign, it was posted plain as day on the website--you should check it out. You can have your say regarding the budget as well.

jeez, I count about 20 public meetings there. That's a lot for a government that doesn't care about the public.

Anyway, my comment was simply on the post on this blog. Had they pushed this thing through they would have been ragged on. They don't push it through and they get ragged on. A bit silly don't you think?

"I think it all depends on who's yard stick we're using to define what "not being used" means. "

By your yardstick Paul is the parking lot in question being used and what is that use? I'm not clear on exactly where the space is, so I'm assuming the facts in the Courier story are correct.

And all I'm simply saying is that they deserve to be ragged on. The more we rag (hopefully) the more cautious they will be.

Truth is this council has needlessly damaged what is actually a noble cause. By proceeding ahead with ideas without due regard to the public process they've managed to hinder the 'green' movement in this city.

By calling public input "theatrics" they have damaged their credibility as listeners.

Once your credibility is gone, you can not lead anymore.

I'm not sure of it's exact location either CK. But with the Vision park boards track record I'm instantly cautious about which parking lot they are referring to.

Riding my bike around there on a regular basis, I'm very familiar with the area and I can't see one parking lot that isn't used. But I may be mistaken, it could be hidden. I'll be watching this story with great interest.

"OK Bill, I understand you don't think the parking lot is a good idea? But why not?"

Well Chris, before, especially during & since I was a Commissioner I've spent a lot of time thinking about what are indeed the appropriate uses of the lands which are entrusted to "the care & custody of the Vancouver Board of Parks & Recreation", which is its legal mandate. I truly love the Vancouver Parks & Recreation system, it's one of the the best in the world to my knowledge. I want it to be even better over time & with wise "care & custody".

I am also an architect & I was raised in a family whose back yard was a huge garden in the summer & a fantasy road & tunnel system in the fall which we kids created. If people in the West End or elsewhere want / need community gardens there are lots & lots of opportunities, including the roofs of their own buildings. Get to it. The Park Board already has a policy which will help you to get started.

Personally, I would like to see some of the local elementary schools have small community gardens attached to them.

It would help with school hot meal programs and teach kids about our food sources.

Parents could also volunteer to help out to keep the garden.

Good idea Max. I'm sending CC photos of such a garden @ McKinney Elementary in richmond. A terrific success.

Nootka elementary has one, or had when my son was there. All created by staff, children and parents, without a focus group facilitator, awareness program or cent of public money as far as I remember.

Check out!

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