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Nanaimo increases urban garden size, Lantzville still in garden stalemate

Larger urban gardens could soon sprout up in Nanaimo under a new zoning bylaw being considered by city council.

Coun. Fred Pattje successfully passed a motion Monday that would see urban property owners with plots larger than 2,400 square metres (half an acre) allowed to have gardens on 25 per cent of the property, as well as sell produce that garden provides at markets.

Prior to the amendment, 600 square metres was the maximum size for an urban garden within city limits.

"Now, if your lot is 4,000 square metres, your garden can be as big as 1,000 square metres," said Pattje. "This is a direct response to feedback we received at recent open houses where people with larger lots expressed interest in using the same proportions for their gardens."

While the amendment itself passed, it is still subject to the approval of the bylaw, a document that affects all zoned properties in Nanaimo. The bylaw passed third reading Monday and is expected to be adopted later this summer.

Also on Monday, urban gardeners in Lantzville held a rally outside the municipal office during the district's regular council meeting, hoping to sway council that a bylaw being developed there is inadequate. The bylaw would allow residents to use 30 per cent of their property up to 600 square metres for urban gardens.

"We definitely think that having a progressive scale is a good thing," said Andrew Mostad, spokesman for Friends of Urban Agriculture Lantzville. "We're still concerned about the scale that is being used. We're thinking that 30 per cent is still not enough, we really think that this will shut down a lot of our small-scale farmers. It would open up the backyard gardener, but it would shut down the small-scale farmer who would provide most of the food he grows for a market."

Mostad said the next step in addressing urban agriculture in Lantzville is to strike an urban agriculture committee that can work with council to reach a solution. An invite for committee members is expected later this month.

Urban agriculture became a hotly debated issue between urban farmers and Lantzville council after Compassion Farms was issued a cease-and-desist order last October, following a complaint from a neighbour that the farm was operating outside of zoning restrictions.

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