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City not renewing garden licence

Members of a charitable nonprofit are disappointed their existing licence for a teaching garden in downtown Penticton will not be renewed.

The city council has denied a request for an extension of the site and advised the Penticton Urban Agriculture Association and Downtown Penticton Association that the existing licence will not be renewed.

"We are not happy with this. We had no indication whatsoever they weren't satisfied with what we were doing," said Eva Durance, past president of the association.

The association put the garden in at Nanaimo Avenue and Backstreet Boulevard in 2011 with the goal of it being a teaching garden on how to grow vegetables and backyard fruits.

All the produce grown there goes to the food bank and the Soupateria.

The nonprofit has a much wider goal than just the garden, its mandate has been to work on questions of local food production and security.

Peter Wallace, land administrator for the city, said there was a three year lease that was granted two and a half years ago with the association and that lease expires June 30, 2014.

The association also requested a lease extension and increase in size from .22 acres to .32 acres in the garden, adjacent to a parking lot.

There was no provision of renewal in the lease, it was more of a trial period and the parking lot was made smaller because a perimeter was left around the lot for plantings that never materialized, said Wallace.

This comes at a time when there is a shortage of parking space downtown. In an analysis done by the city,  40 additional parking spaces and possibly more could be created in the .32 acres.

"It did not live up to expectations of what could happen on the site," said Wallace.

As part of the process, the city is willing to find  another location for the garden.

The association hopes the council will change their minds.

Durance believes that information on the matter that was supposed to get to council did not reach them, so they have asked to give a presentation at the March 17 meeting.

"There seems to be a misunderstanding of what we are trying to do," she said. "We are hoping for a positive reaction at the meeting."

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