New Westminster city council supports community garden at city hall

New Westminster city council digs the idea of creating a community garden on the front lawn of city hall.

A delegation from New Westminster Environmental Partners appeared at the July 4 council meeting to seek the city's support to allow it to build and maintain a community garden on the section of the front lawn of city hall along Sixth Street for a trial period of two years.

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NWEP member Nadine Nakagawa said numerous studies have shown that spending time in nature has a positive effect on mental health and lowers rates of depression and anxiety. She noted that everyone from children to seniors benefit from being outdoors.

"Community gardeners also eat more vegetables," Nakagawa said. "They exercise more and they report feeling healthier than non-gardeners, even people who garden at home."

Kevin McConnell, a member of New Westminster Environmental Partners, said the garden would allow more residents to have access to gardens, but it will also allow people to meet their neighbours and build a more resilient community and contribute toward food security.

"Having a lush green lawn in front of the city hall does not symbolize the kind of environmental-conscious community we live in," he said. "Growing food crops, rather than water-hungry grass will attract beneficial insects such as bees to our area."

Coun. Patrick Johnstone agrees New Westminster needs more community gardens, noting they're filled up as soon as new gardens are created. He thinks the huge expanse of green lawn in front of city hall is a natural location for a community garden, but suggested staff could report back on the ideal location, given other uses of the space and access to water.

Coun. Chuck Puchmayr believes the area near Fourth Street may be a better location than Sixth Street.

Council approved a motion to work with New Westminster Environmental Partners to examine the possibility of creating a community garden on the front lawn of city hall

Mayor Jonathan Cote said his family joined a community garden a year ago.

"I'll be honest, I have no idea what I'm doing with the gardening aspect, but I can bring my daughters down there and they can understand that food doesn't come out of a grocery store - you actually have to grow and work for that," he said. "I'm not sure we are going to be food secure in the Cote household anytime in the near future, but it's been a wonderful way to spend time with the family."



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