Central Park: Civic parties clash over Stanley Park farm site

NPA park board candidate wants a working urban farm

Farm report

In Wednesdays column I wrote about a motion Vision Vancouver park board chair Aaron Jasper is bringing to the board Monday night that recommends making a permanent First Nations education and cultural centre where the Childrens Farmyard was once located in Stanley Park.

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Jasper says the success of the seasonal Klahowya Village First Nations display demonstrates a centre dedicated to aboriginal culture would be a hit and, with the right partner, might mean little cost to taxpayers.

The Childrens Farmyard in Stanley Park closed in January after the Vision Vancouver-dominated park board decided it was in the citys best interest to take the $160,000 annual subsidy for the popular attraction and use the money elsewhere.

But now the NPA also has a suggestion for the farmyard. NPA park board candidate Dave Pasin says a better plan for that space would be a working urban farm, which could include First Nations components. It could be a practical working farm within the city, something we dont have, says Pasin. Children could learn about sustainability and there could be little plots of vegetables where they could get their hands in the dirt planting.

Pasin suggests instead of a petting zoo, which had been a popular component of the farmyard, the Know Your Food Farm could include several animals found on a farm, such as a goat and cow for milking, and bees to make honey. Demonstrations could include harvesting honey and goat milking.

In an email to the Courier, NPA park board candidate John Coupar says, The farm would be designed to have practical demonstrations with school tours and visitors as farm guides demonstrate sustainable farming methods to the guests.

In addition, Coupar says, visitors could watch video presentations and practical demonstrations of milk production and fruit and vegetable planting.

With the right partners, the farm could also operate with little or no taxpayer money, Pasin adds. This way children can learn about where their food comes from and you dont have to give out any grants to do it, says Pasin, taking a shot at the Vision Vancouver-dominated city council, which recently approved thousands of dollars in Greenest City Neighbourhood Grants and Community Urban Agriculture funds, for projects dedicated to educating children about food.

Ironically, the NPA launched an attack ad this week mocking Vision Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson for his enthusiasm for backyard chickens and front yard wheat fields. Meanwhile, former NPA councillor and mayoral candidate Peter Ladner wrote in his column this week in Business in Vancouver: Politicians and candidates be warned. Ridiculing urban farming is a no-win strategy. Food security is marching up the priority list in cities around the world, and Vancouver should be leading, not resisting, this movement.

Id be interested to hear from readers if theyd prefer a First Nations cultural centre, a working farm or something entirely different on that property.

sthomas@vancourier.com

Twitter: @sthomas10

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