Trail council weighs in on growing season

Trail council turned down incrEDIBLE trail's request to develop a community garden on a chunk of city-owned land on Rossland Ave

The incrEDIBLE trail’s plan to grow a garden-for-all hit a roadblock on Monday.

Trail council turned down the group’s request to develop a community garden on a chunk of city-owned land on Rossland Ave.

Citing the cost to develop the site, which is across from the Colombo Lodge, Trail council supported the initiative in principle during the governance meeting, but asked the edible landscape committee to come up with a different locale.

According to the city’s engineering department, installing water, grading the gravel surface and supplying 300 feet of fencing would exceed $15,000 – a number Trail council deemed too high.

But Gina Ironmonger from the incrEDIBLE trail says she’s not giving up on growing food in a garden that would be all inclusive and open for learning and teaching.

While the committee continues to look at other land options, action for a second year of edible landscapes throughout the Trail community is already underway, beginning with the city’s first “Seedy Saturday,” slated for March 14 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church.

The event features a free seed exchange, a childrens’ planting workshop, educational booths and seed vendors.

Council’s decision to nix the $15,000 community garden proposal came on the heels of another commitment, which was to green-light Trail Community in Bloom (CiB) a $110,000 budget this year.

This includes $50,000 for plants, shrubs, pots and baskets; $19,500 for the watering contract; $15,000 in city wages for services such as transporting planters, and repairs to sprinklers; plus another $10,000 for contract help to assist with hauling soil and various rock work.

Dan Rodlie, CiB’s chair, spoke before Trail council during the morning meeting, highlighting the group’s strategy to keep the Silver City shining this season.

While he asked for $10,000 more than what was granted, Trail council did agree for the city to be part of the CiB international competition. That aspect to the program eats up considerable funds especially in labour costs. Earlier this year, council considered dropping support (about $6500) for a visit by international CiB judges and other related incidentals like attending the national conference.

The nod to keep Trail with a competitive edge, (last year the city was up against Castlegar, plus towns in Alberta, Newfoundland, Manitoba and Ireland) is welcome news to Rodlie.

“For us, competing brings out more volunteers than when we are not competing,” he noted. “And people like to look forward to something, it gives them incentive.”

Before blooming judges land on Trail soil this summer, Rodlie said the committee will focus on improving urban forest, both in the city and on privately-owned properties.

“That’s an area that we really got nailed on last year,” he said. “People come into town and ask why a tree is dead, and say, ‘Did something kill it?’”

Rodlie said the committee is asking for a volunteer arborist or people with background knowledge in trees to come forward and help develop an inventory and strategy to deal with the dead trees.

“The volunteers won’t be going out there to do the work,” he clarified. “What we need is someone to come out with us, take a look and advise us on what we should be doing. Whether we get all the work done this year isn’t important, we need to show the judges that we have a plan in place.”

While most of CiB’s work will be maintenance of the current greenery, there will be additional flowering trees, signage describing the plants, and more sustainable growth moving forward.

“We are slowly switching over to perennials, which are less costly and easier to maintain,” said Rodlie. “And we really need to pull our socks up with the covered stairs,” he said. “We have to pay attention and have them cleaned up. Because it’s not just for the judges it’s for the people who live in the community who use them as thorough ways every day.”

The next CiB meeting is scheduled for Feb. 26 at city hall, 6:30 p.m.

Rodlie invites new and past volunteers and those who may want a better understanding of how the organization’s $110,000 budget is dispersed.

“If people have concerns and want to know how we spend the money, I encourage them to come out,” Rodlie added. “And anybody interested or ready to volunteer.”