Gardens society ready to put down roots at Beban Park

NANAIMO – Organization wins $40,000 grant and has a shot at another $25,000.

Nanaimo Community Gardens Society is in a race to rake in votes.

Nanaimo Mid-Island Co-op announced Tuesday that the Nanaimo Community Garden Society has won $40,000 from the Co-op Community Spaces Program for new greenhouses and could get another $25,000 if it collects the most votes in a 12-day cyber race this month.

The dollars are added reassurance for the society, which is putting down roots in Beban Park after securing a lease with the city and a spot in the park’s long-term vision.

Four years ago, it faced uncertainty about its future home.

After more than a decade of food production and education on a Hammond Bay property owned by the Regional District of Nanaimo, the organization was given notice it had to move to allow expansion of a sewage treatment plant. Beban Park was eyed as an alternative location, but it’s been in a master plan process that’s put any new developments on hold for the past two years.

Now, armed with funding and political support, the society is ready for the next phase, from reviewing its timeline and budget to securing a building permit.

“Everything took twice as long as we thought it would but we’re here,” said Pat Wells, spokeswoman for the society, which she adds is “extremely happy” with their location at Beban Park and that they can see their dreams more clearly.

The hope is to build one or two greenhouses at the now-unused Beban Park bowling greens near Beban Park Golf Course. The gardens society sees the potential to offer workshops and educate people about how to grow their own food and considers it the right location, close to downtown and on a bus route.

Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman and city councillor Ian Thorpe called the location and Co-op’s announcement extremely exciting, wishing the society the best of luck.

“I can assure you that the City of Nanaimo looks forward to supporting this group,” he said.

Wells anticipates the need for fundraising and that the amount to raise will be better known after the next leg of the Co-op contest.

The tally of online votes will determine the winner of the contest, which runs Sept. 14-25 and will see one of four Canadian projects pull in an additional $25,000.

For more information and to vote, please go to www.communityspaces.ca.