Community gardens could be coming to downtown Chilliwack

Community gardens not only add beauty and a place to grow food, but they also reduce stress, add a sense of wellness and belonging

Beans could be one of the crops grown in community gardens in Chilliwack.

Community gardens might be the perfect temporary use for Chilliwack’s empty lots.

That was the gist of discussions at city hall recently, about the prospect of establishing community gardens in downtown Chilliwack.

The idea is coming on the heels of multiple requests to the city from Ruth & Naomi’s Mission and other groups.

“Why a community garden? The short answer is, why not?” said city staffer Carolyn Marleau during her report to city council.

A community garden green space would not only add beauty and become a place to grow nutritious food, but it could also reduce stress, and create a sense of wellness and belonging.

The city owns “several” vacant lots, said Marleau, including the former Paramount Theatre site, and they could create a portable garden set-up at those sites, possibilities.

“This is in line with downtown revitalization efforts, as a way to change the landscape bother socially and physically.”

Coun. Lum said he hoped staff would also investigate the possibility of permanent community garden sites, and not just interim or temporary ones.

But Coun. Ken Huttema said the initial idea was to make them portable or temporary, to create an interim use until redevelopment could proceed.

Council voted unanimously to investigate the possibility of including community gardens, as part of a plan to create a healthy and sustainable downtown and to provide interim uses for empty lots waiting to be developed.

“There’s a lot of excitement and anticipation about the changes downtown and a community garden would be another innovative approach we can take towards the revitalization of the area,” said Mayor Gaetz. “Community gardens bring people together from a wide variety of backgrounds and increase a sense of community ownership.”

At the council meeting she noted there had been a shift in culture.

“All of us are trying to live in a more sustainable way. Chilliwack is becoming known as a place for foodies.”