The Agassiz Community Garden at its old home on Pioneer Avenue. (The Observer file)

No home for Agassiz Community Garden on school district land

The garden is still homeless after SD78 said no to the society using the McCaffrey School property

The Agassiz Harrison Community Garden is still without a home after being denied space at the old McCaffrey Alternative School.

“This is our sixth or seventh attempt to get a property,” garden society president Laurens van Vliet said over the phone.

“The McCaffrey school property, that was very unfortunate. We had our hopes high.”

In January of this year, the garden society approached the Fraser-Cascade School District about the possibility of using the district property as a new location for the community garden.

The society has been without a home since it was evicted from its location on Pioneer Avenue in October of 2018.

The garden society had been searching since August 2018 for a new home, but hadn’t found any concrete leads.

RELATED: Uprooted: Agassiz Community Garden evicted after 15 years on Pioneer Avenue

After the eviction, the society had approached the District of Kent about using the old McCaffrey Alternative School property on Dogwood Road, and brought a letter of support from Mayor Sylvia Pranger to the school board presentation on January 15.

During the presentation, the garden society said they had tested the soil at the site and found it would make for an excellent setting for the community garden. Although it was located outside the Agassiz townsite, properties within the town that would work were few and far between, and the society hoped the school district would allow them to use the McCaffrey School site.

The January presentation was not enough to convince the school district to allow the community garden to grow at the old McCaffrey Alternative School.

RELATED: Agassiz Community Gardens hoping to find new home at old McCaffrey school

In a letter to the garden society, school district director of facilities and transportation Doug Templeton said “having a community garden on one of our sites would not be appropriate at this time.”

According to the letter, the school district’s capital plan includes the partial replacement of Agassiz Elementary Secondary School and and upgrades to Kent Elementary, which may require the sale of “surplus property.”

Although the McCaffrey Alternative School site was not mentioned by name, the letter implies that could be one of the sites that is sold.

“As the district is anticipating moving forward with these requests, we do not want to compromise our options on current school sites by adding outside agencies to our properties,” the letter reads.

For now, the society is still looking for a permanent home, van Vliet said. The society has been working with the District of Kent to find potential properties, although nothing has come up yet.

“Our strategy was first to work on one property and see,” van Vliet said. “We didn’t want to start looking at other properties at the same time.

“Now, we are at the stage where we are looking at two or three things at the same time.”



grace.kennedy@ahobserver.com

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