Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Metro Vancouver looks to revive farming at regional park

Can urban farms co-exist with the nature-lovers and wildlife that share regional parks?

This is Metro Vancouver's vision for Colony Farm Park, a former dairy farm that lies between Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam. A special joint committee recommended today that its board of directors approve a draft plan to create a $5-million "sustainable food production academy" at the park.

The draft budget includes $1 million for field improvements, including drainage and irrigation; $800,000 for electricity and water systems and equipment storage; $650,000 for greenhouses, crop washing, processing and storage facilities and a temporary farmers' market site; $1.7 million for a demonstration kitchen and bird-banding laboratory (with a preference to renovate two existing buildings that already include classroom and display areas); $100,000 for a therapeutic garden; $250,00 for picnic area and pathways; and $500,000 for habitat improvements.

The 32-acres proposed for the project could also be home to incubator farms, where new farmers can lease land at a low cost as they develop their business plans and practices.

Last fall, The Tyee profiled the McVean incubator farm which lies within the Claireville Conservation area just outside Toronto. This year the Richmond Food Security Society signed a three-year lease with the City of Richmond to start an incubator farm on a on a 2.5-acre hayfield.

Elaine Golds, vice president of Burke Mountain Naturalists (one of the partner organizations that currently manages Colony Farm Park) told the Vancouver Sun today that farming in Metro Vancouver parks is a "dangerous road to go down" and expressed concern about impacts to wildlife habitat.

However, Vancouver city councillor Andrea Reimer, who sits on Metro's agriculture committee said Colony Farm Park is "one that is actually supposed to be managed for agriculture" and that good farming practices can actually benefit local wildlife.

Colony Park Farm was gifted to Metro Vancouver by the province when it closed the Riverview hospital. The land is entirely within the Agricultural Land Reserve and has a covenant on it that requires it to be used for certain purposes, including agriculture, said Reimer.

"There are no no-brainers in government," Reimer said. "This one comes awfully close."

Reimer said at today's committee meeting, where the plan was discussed and passed forward to council, there was "vague discomfort" at the idea of public space being used for for-profit, commercial farming enterprises.

"It's not unusual for government's to invest in economic development," said Reimer, adding, however, that "all the agriculture people were laughing at the idea of 'profit'."

Reimer stressed that the plan has been recommended in principle only. It has to be approved by the board before exploring funding sources and seeking public input on the details.

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Tyee.

Find more in:

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus