A community garden nestled in the backside of Knox Mountain is about to meet its fate as the lots on Clifton Road are prepared for future development.
Glen Valley residents were caught off guard last week when a notice was hung from the seven-year-old garden’s gate requesting all personal items be removed from the property, as work is scheduled to begin on July 22.
Lindsay Williams, a resident of Glen Valley for the past three years, said she was shocked and saddened by the notice that appeared with no indication of who it was from. However, she said she understands that development needs to happen. She asked did it just need to happen the right way?
“We’re hearing a lot of outcry from neighbourhoods and communities saying they don’t feel heard or seen and it just points to policy and systems that need to be adjusted,” Williams, a real estate investor, said.
“What makes the residents frustrated is that there was and is no communication,” said another resident in an email. “If they had known in advance, they would not have put their energy and love into this project.”
“The garden is really a symbol of a community hub,” Williams said, noting families—parents and their children—have worked together to build the raised boxes, the benches and bar tables over the years and it was there kids were able to learn about sustainability and food production.
One resident even brought in bee colonies to boost pollination and aid in sustaining the bee populations.
But, the land the garden sits upon is privately owned and is slated for development. Although there are no plans before the City of Kelowna council now, Kerkhoff Construction has been engaged by the property owner to grade the site and install a municipal road to prepare for future developments, Kerkhoff president and CEO Leonard Kerkhoff said in an email.
The land, which is zoned for multi-family residential, may be home to condos and townhomes, pending final application processes and council’s approval.
“We do not consider the garden to be a ‘community garden,’ as it is constructed on private property that is not their own,” Kerkhoff said.
City of Kelowna’s divisional director of planning and development services, Ryan Smith, said the garden has encroached private land and Kerkhoff wouldn’t need any permits to remove it.
“But, it would be neighbourly to try to work (with) adjacent owners by giving them notice that change is occurring,” Smith said.
“We all knew that this wasn’t our land,” Williams said. “But we just thought it would managed in a more ethical and considerate way.”
Kerkhoff said the strata and its management company informed residents that it did not support the garden.
“As good neighbours,” Kerkhoff added, “we have posted the notices for the construction to allow adequate time for the neighbours to remove their personal belongings from the site where construction is about to commence.”
“The garden is probably going to go and I think this (land) needs to be developed,” Williams said. “But, it’s not being done well and nothing is being done well in Kelowna right now and they need to address the fact that their systems are broken.”