Our Building Roots team took particular notice of a garden in Ward 22 with notice from Councillor Josh Matlow.
Why? Because the City passed a motion making the community garden in Oriole Park the ﬁrst community infrastructure project we’ve heard of to use Section 37 for food.
It is also the ward’s first community garden, helping to fulfill the City’s policy passed a decade ago for a public garden in every ward.
When we spoke to Josh he said that asking city councillors to use Section 37 it was a way to implement good food in new and established developments and parks. Section 37 is funding provided as part of the development process to projects that provide community benefits. See our developing Building Roots Toolkit for more info and how to do this yourself.
Oriole Park’s community garden being built in May
Councilor Matlow met with residents in Brentwood Towers, Deer Park and Chaplin Estates residents to determine how they wanted to see Section 37 funds used. The majority voted for a community garden. Community town hall meetings also helped to carefully determine the best use of the money for the residents.
This is an excellent example of local decision-making and budgeting – and the people wanted food!
The development at 137, 147 and 35 Merton Street fully funded Section 37, and therefore the garden. Now that Section 37 for the park is allocated there will be a committee of residents who will be part of the design, implementation and maintenance of the community garden.
Perhaps local businesses will donate equipment and other raw materials, such as soil, seedlings and even labour.
We look forward to hearing more about Oriole Park and how the process will create a space that can be used by everyone.
The fact that Section 37 funds were used to create this urban agriculture initiative is a tangible example to city Councillors, planners and developers that urban agriculture and related community and commercial food infrastructure can be accomplished when we all work together.
This is exactly what Building Roots is working to make happen across Toronto. Contact us for support in making this happen in your neighbourhood.
– Lisa Kates, Building Roots consultant