Letter to Council: Start-up Grant for the Yates Street Community Garden

Mayor and Council City of Victoria No.1 Centennial Square Victoria, BC V8W 1P6

16 June, 2016

Re: Start-up Grant for the Yates Street Community Garden

Dear Mayor and Council,

I’m writing on behalf of the Yates Street Community Garden Steering Committee. We have an immediate need for $3,000 in start-up funding to pay for the construction and outfitting of the first 40 raised bed garden planters to be installed at the new Yates Street Community Garden in downtown Victoria.

Here is our situation—since the public announcement that Council had voted to make the lot at 1012/1014 Yates Street available to the downtown community to operate as a community garden, it has been our understanding that the City would grant us some funds to kick-start the new garden.

In March of 2016, we submitted a Strategic Plan Grant Application in the hopes of being granted some start-up funds for the new community garden, the first of its kind in downtown. While receipt of the application was acknowledged on April 1st, we have heard nothing of its status since. Recently we learned that grant funds for projects on public land had been shifted to the new, My Great Neighbourhood Grant program. While it is our intention to submit an application for a My Great Neighbourhood Grant, even if our application is successful, those funds will come too late for us to take advantage of a unique opportunity that is currently available to us.

We have been working with Albert van Akker, Chair of Architectural Trades, and Instructor of the Carpentry Program at Camosun College. Mr. van Akker has generously offered to have the students taking the current carpentry class at Camosun College, construct the first 40 planter boxes for the garden. With this offer, the Yates Street Community Garden would only be charged for the materials of construction. Unfortunately, if we can’t find the funds for the materials at this time, we can’t accept his offer. We will miss this opportunity, and the Camosun Trades program will be left scrambling to find another non-profit partner to work with.

We need approximately $3,000 to cover the material costs of the 40 planter boxes, and outfit each with soil. The Victoria Cool Aid Society has generously offered to donate $500, and the Victoria Downtown Residents’ Association has generously offered to match that donation provided that the Yates Street Community Garden Steering Committee can come up with the remaining amount.

We are asking Council to grant us the remaining $2,000 so that we can get the garden started in time for this planting season. If our My Great Neighbourhood Grant Application is successful, we would expect that the $2,000 would constitute part of the granted amount, and thus only be an advance on those funds.

We thank you very much for your consideration of our request, and look forward to hearing from you as soon as practicable.

Sincerely,

Nicholas Harrington Co-Chair Victoria Downtown Residents’ Association

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