Friends - Sorry about that blank message from me. It's late and I pushed
the wrong button. I'm posting this message from on behalf of the Bytowne
Urban Gardens. -Anna Wasescha, ACGA List Manager
Since 1997, Bytowne Urban Gardens (BUGs) has been
running a thriving community gardening program in the downtown core of Ottawa,
Ontario. The program exemplifies the best aspects of the community gardening
movement and brings together local citizens of all income groups and abilities
to care for their neighbourhood, learn to grow food organically, reduce waste
through composting, increase their food security and empower themselves through
collective action. (Please see http://bugs.freehosting.net/bugsweb for the garden web site).
Throughout this time, BUGs has appreciated the
cooperation of many community partners, including the City of Ottawa who has
rented us the land for $1 a year and provided other types of in-kind and
occasional financial support. In 1998, the City recognized the efforts of the
gardeners by awarding it the City of Ottawa's Environmental Achievement Award.
Now, however, the City has informed the garden that
they require the land to build an Emergency Medical Services (ambulance) station
and potentially two apartment buildings. The City's Planning Department has
initiated a process to change the zoning of the land to permit this development,
but so far they have not been willing to discuss how to continue its cooperation
with the BUGs garden. As such, we may be unable to plant this season and our
future as a garden is in doubt. To date, the City has not suggested an
alternative location for the garden, nor how they might help us in moving there.
The BUGs members are residents of the community, and
thus, we do not oppose having an EMS station or apartments in our neighbourhood;
however, we feel that there should be a way to find a "win-win" solution that
meets the needs of the City government, and the many groups and individuals who
benefit from the garden's presence in our community.
Thus, we are mobilizing our members, the wider
community, and the media to Help Save BUGs! with the aim of staying on our
present site, or failing that, being assisted to move to another location.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
As organizations with an interest in promoting
community gardening and urban agriculture, we ask that you would help us with
the campaign by:
1. Publicizing our cause through your web pages, list
serves and personal contacts. We have a web page, www.helpsavebugs.homestead.com where people can learn more about the garden, our campaign
and how they can help. There is even an online petition that people can sign as
2. Advocating on behalf of BUGs by contacting the
City of Ottawa. We'd really appreciate it if your agency would be willing to
send us a letter of support that we could submit to the City of Ottawa at the
next public meeting. As you know, not every government official is aware of the
benefits of community gardening (social, environmental, recreational, safety,
food security, etc.) and it would greatly help our cause if they could see us as
part of the wider movement to promote community gardening. Please send your
letters to me at email@example.com by May 1st, 2003.
3. Advising us on how best to find a solution to our
problem. We know that we are not the first community garden to go through this,
and there must be many lessons learned on how best to proceed. I would be very
grateful to hear your suggestions on how to run this campaign, what types of
arguments to use, what precedents there are for preserving community gardens,
what other sources of information we can draw on, etc. Please send any advice to
this address, firstname.lastname@example.org
I appreciate you taking the time to hear our request
for help, and I look forward to working with you to HELP SAVE BUGs!
Viva BUGs! Viva!
Member of the Help Save BUGs Committee