Legal and Policy Barriers to Community Gardening in Winnipeg, Canada

By Mikulec, Philip; Diduck, Alan P. et al. | Canadian Journal of Urban Research, Winter 2013 | Go to article overview

Legal and Policy Barriers to Community Gardening in Winnipeg, Canada


Mikulec, Philip, Diduck, Alan P., Froese, Beverly, Unger, Heather, MacKenzie, Kathryn, Canadian Journal of Urban Research


Abstract

Community gardening can provide important social, economic, and environmental benefits, including enhanced community cohesion, greater food security, and reclamation of vacant lots. More and more cities in North America are recognizing these benefits, and Winnipeg is no exception. In 2009 it adopted a policy stating that it views community gardens as beneficial for supporting healthy communities and improving the quality of life in neighbourhoods. This research investigated the extent to which the legal and policy framework governing community gardening enables or hinders gardening initiatives. The focus of the work was the inner city. Our methods were an analysis of legislation and policy documents, participant observation, focus groups with gardening coordinators, City officials and gardeners, and key informant interviews. The results revealed important legal and policy barriers, e.g., the use of license agreements rather than leases to grant access to City land, the short-term nature of the agreements, incentives for infill development in the inner city, and lack of political and planning support for establishing more green space in the city. Lowering the barriers will require better dialogue and partnerships among neighbourhood associations, gardeners and the City. It will also require the City to fully integrate community gardening into its environmental planning framework.

Keywords: Community gardening, City of Winnipeg, legal and policy barriers, infill development, environmental planning

Resume

Le jardinage communautaire peut fournir des benefices economiques, sociaux, et environnementaux importants. Ceux-ci incluent une cohesion fortifiee de la communaute, une meilleure securite alimentaire et la recuperation de terrains non batis. De plus en plus de villes en Amerique du Nord reconnaissent les avantages du jardinage communautaire et Winnipeg n'en fait pas exception. Winnipeg a adopte en 2009 une politique qui affirme que les jardins communautaires peuvent promouvoir des collectivites saines et ameliorer la qualite de vie dans les communautes. La presente recherche examine jusqu a quel point les cadres legislatifs et strategiques qui regissent les jardins communautaires permettent ou entravent les initiatives de jardinage. Lobjet de notre recherche est le centre-ville. Nos methodes ont compris une analyse de la documentation strategique et juridique, letablissement de groupes temoins avec des responsables de jardins, les fonctionnaires municipaux, des jardiniers, et des entrevues avec des temoins privileges dans ce domaine. Les resultats ont revele des obstacles strategiques et judiciaires tels que l'usage des conventions de droits d'utilisation au lieu des baux accordant le droit aux proprietes de la Ville, des ententes a court terme, des subventions pour encourager le developpement sur terrain intercalate, et le manque de support strategique et politique pour letablissement des espaces verts dans la ville. Pour reduire les obstacles, il faudra encourager le dialogue et les partenariats entre les diverses associations communautaires, les jardiniers et la Ville. II faudra aussi que la Ville integre les jardins communautaires dans sa planification environnementale.

Mots cles: Le jardinage communautaire, la Ville de Winnipeg, les obstacles strategiques et judiciaires, ledification sur terrain intercalaire, la planification environnemental

INTRODUCTION: FRAMING THE PROBLEM

Community gardens, depending on their purposes, can fulfill numerous community and neighbourhood development goals (Ferris, Norman and Sempik 2001). Governments and community organizations have used gardens for purposes as diverse as unemployment relief, educational opportunities, and food production in times of war (Lawson 2004). Community gardens have also begun to play a role in beautifying and greening city streets and neighbourhoods, as well as providing various other social, health, and environmental benefits, including enhanced community cohesion (Alaimo et al. …

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