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Banff gardeners get additional funds to begin third greenhouse

BANFF – Those waiting to get their hands dirty gardening in Banff’s mountain soil received good news at council with the approval of extra funds to build the community’s third greenhouse this fall.
Banff from Norquay
Rocky Mountain Outlook

BANFF – Those waiting to get their hands dirty gardening in Banff’s mountain soil received good news at council with the approval of extra funds to build the community’s third greenhouse this fall.

Andrew Oosting, with the Banff Greenhouse Gardening Society, appeared in front of council earlier this month to request council consider additional funding this year for the project.

Council had already dedicated $70,000 in its capital budget for the project, but Oosting said the society had only raised $18,000 through fundraising and community grants, which was not enough to reach the total cost of $125,000 to build the greenhouse.

Council agreed to his request committing up to an additional $50,000 to begin building the perimeter foundation and installing a deep water line before winter hits so work can begin in the spring of 2019.

“The society has been trying to raise funds for the past year and a half,” he said. “We have pursued several grants and been successful with the Legion and Banff Canmore Community Foundation.”

Other grant applications are in the process of being considered, but Oosting said the society would not know the results in time to get into the ground this year.

“At this time we are looking for additional funds to make sure the greenhouse is a reality for us and operates next summer.”

The greenhouse society developed its first project in 2011 at the rec grounds and a second on the roof of Cascade Mall in 2013. Oosting said 60 plots are available to the community, but it continues to have a yearly waiting list for access.

“Our greenhouses provide the opportunity for 200 people in Banff to interact and connect with each other,” he said. “On average, over the past five years we have had to turn away 30 to 40 applicants a year.”

Oosting expressed concern that those who have been unable to get a plot over several years have given up, as the waiting list number has been slowly decreasing.

The third greenhouse came out of the society developing a long term strategy which included a deep water connection to extend the gardening season and lessen the impact the current facility has at the rec grounds.

Banff environmental manager Chad Townsend briefed council on the options available for providing funding this year.

Those options included waiting for the request for additional $50,000 in funding to come back as part of the 2019 budget service review process.

Mayor Karen Sorensen and Councillor Grant Canning spoke favourably of the society’s efforts and the project, but said they would prefer to consider budget requests at the appropriate time and place during the budget process.

“I think the greenhouses are magnificent and I think this is a wonderful community project … but my reason to vote against this is philosophical and financial,” said the mayor. “Simply based on our financial practices from a budget perspective and how I feel this needs to flow … I would rather consider it in the 2019 (budget process).”

Canning said he didn’t feel the budget stabilization fund was an appropriate source of money for the project either.

“I would love to see more time for the grant (applications) to come forward,” he said. “For me this is about process, and this is not the best use of the budget stabilization fund.”

Councillors Brian Standish, Chip Olver, Peter Poole and Corrie DiManno voted in favour of funding the project so it can begin work this year out of its budget stabilization fund.

DiManno pointed out no other recreational group is being asked to fund capital projects for the rec grounds redevelopment plan, which was reviewed and adopted by council.

“Rugby, soccer, baseball, skateboarders … they are not asked to figure out how to finance components of our redevelopment plan and I don’t think they should,” she said, adding the greenhouse was identified in the plan. “As a community, we are also in the middle of a food movement and progress that has been made in tackling food security is exciting.”

She said if the greenhouse society is successful in grant applications this fall, the 2019 budget could be amended for the project to reflect that. But in order to get into the ground this year before it freezes, they needed assurance the entire project would be funded.

Olver said it would not be appropriate to begin the project without full funding in place, and she supported the motion for a 2018 budget change

Tanya Foubert

About the Author: Tanya Foubert

Tanya Foubert started as a news reporter at the Rocky Mountain Outlook in 2006. She won the Canadian Community Newspaper Award for best news story for her coverage of the 2013 flood. In December 2018, she became editor of the Outlook.
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