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LETTER: Community garden in Woodland Creek Park would compromise parkland

Preferably locate community gardens close to condos and apartments.

woodland creek park, sooke, urban
Urban playspace in park at Woodland Creek Park in Sooke, BC. [Google]

Monday June 17, 2024 | SOOKE, BC

LETTER by Tom Myrick, Sooke | Posted in Island Social Trends

Transition Sooke is currently considering a “suitable long-term location” for a Sooke Community Garden.  One of the locations being considered is Woodland Creek Park, which is a small neighbourhood park located in the Woodland Creek neighbourhood. 

woodland creek park, sooke
Woodland Creek Park is located in a fairly new urban area of Sooke, BC. [Gooel maps]

I am fine with community gardens but not at the expense of parkland, even though I do understand that a permitted use in parks is small-scale agriculture. Woodland Creek Park is small, and this critical open space would for all practical purposes be taken away from the neighbourhood, except for a small pond that is home to nesting birds. Would the proposed gardens affect the pond, and thus the abundant bird population?   

The homes in Woodland Creek have back yards so the gardens would likely not be used by the Woodland Creek residents. These gardens would be used by people outside the neighbourhood, and there simply is not sufficient parking. 

trees, woodland creek park, sooke
Trees in Woodland Creek Park in Sooke, BC. [Google]

There could possibly be some sort of agreement reached with the nearby schools for parking, however we all know that people will park as close as possible to the park, which is on the neighbourhood streets.  It would make more sense to have community gardens close to condos and apartments, serving people who cannot have their own garden. 

The other location being considered is Ponds Park Corridor, which is part of John Phillips Memorial Park (a former golf course). The intent of this park has always been to be an “active” park, so if Transition Sooke insists on using parkland, a section of this park (not necessarily the Ponds Park Corridor section) would make more sense. It is also close to the new apartments on Otter Point Road, so the gardens would serve these residents.   

Woodland Creek Park is not suitable for a community garden for the reasons I have outlined.      

playground, park, sooke
Play structure in urban Woodland Creek Park in Sooke. [Google]

~ Letter by Tom Myrick, a long-time resident of Sooke 

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Editor’s Notes:

The push for a community garden within the urban areas of Sooke has been promoted by the Sooke Region Food CHI organization. The group said a few months ago that they have been meeting with resistance for in-town park locations.

Sooke has many homes with yard space for food-growing, and the Sunriver Community & Allotment Garden has been operating for years in service to the community but has been full to capacity for a while.

urban food resilience initiatives society, logo

The Sooke Food CHI organization seemed keen to push further after hearing about the development of an urban community garden in the City of Langford, but the Langford location (while within a city park) is near condos and townhomes where people have no yards at all, compared to WoodLand Creek Park which is surrounded by homes with yards.

Recently, the District of Sooke awarded a grant to the Urban Food Resilience Initiatives Society to support household food-garden resilience for a range of housing types. Development of a neighbourhood pod pilot project will commence in Sooke this summer (with applicability to other communities).