By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Although they already had the green thumb, the Morinville Community Gardens got the green light Tuesday night after Council gave unanimous second and third reading to a bylaw that moves the second phase of the project closer to reality.
After a public hearing held Tuesday night, Council gave unanimous second and third reading to a bylaw that removes the Municipal Reserve designation from the land the Town is setting aside for the garden.
The Morinville Centennial Community Gardens had a successful inaugural year in 2011 behind the Morinville United Church. This year will see the expansion of the initiative to lands in Champlain Park, located across from the Ray McDonald Sports Centre and next door to the Tiny Tots Preschool.
Local agriculture was identified in Morinville’s Municipal Sustainability Initiative, Municipal Development Plan and the Recreation Parks and Open Spaces Master Plan as specific initiatives the community should pursue.
However, the now approved bylaw was necessary for the garden to go ahead as the land to be leased to the Morinville Community Gardens group is located in what is currently Champlain Park. As such, it is considered Municipal Reserve Land and the Municipal Government Act requires the reserve designation to be removed before a lease agreement on the land can be established.
Council had given first reading to the bylaw Mar. 13; however, the Municipal Government Act requires the Town to hold a public hearing prior to giving second reading to the bylaw. That public hearing, held Tuesday night, resulted in no response from the public for or against the bylaw.
With the bylaw now passed, the necessary documentation will be sent to Alberta Land Titles who will reissue the land title with the designation removed. A formal lease agreement between the group and the Town of Morinville will be created, allowing the garden expansion to proceed.
Morinville Community Gardens founder and spokesperson Valerie Loseth, who attended the public hearing Tuesday night, said she was pleased with Council’s decision.
“I’m thrilled the Town is now moving forward and we can get busy on the business of building the garden,” Loseth said after Council’s unanimous vote. She said all of the plots planned for 2012 have been spoken for and that she is appreciative of both the interest and the support from the community in making the garden a reality. “We are full at both the new garden and the Church,” she said, noting the original location has 10 raised plots available, while the Champlain Park garden has 16 plots. That number might be increased by a couple once firmer plans are put in place.