More community gardens to be closed

Soil contamination has forced the Southwest borough to close two community gardens and part of a third. The Gazette has more:

The borough said it took the decision after tests analyzed by the Public Health Department showed levels of toxins higher than acceptable norms. However, levels of toxins consumed through produce cultivated in the gardens are minimal, health officials said.

“We can tell you right now, there is no worry for your health as a result of eating vegetables from this soil,” Monique Beausoleil, a toxicologist with the department told about 100 gardeners at a meeting at the St. Cunégonde community centre in Little Burgundy.

She explained most of the contaminants were found in soil lower than the roots that most typical vegetables grow, so their absorption rate was very low.

A total of 167 plots will be closed in three locations: the Pointe Verte garden on Knox St. in Point St. Charles at the corner of Charlevoix St., the Des Seigneurs garden on Des Seigneurs St. at St. Jacques St. in Little Burgundy, and the eastern section of the Little Burgundy garden on Dominion St. at the corner of Blake.

The borough said people can apply to be transferred to the non-affected gardens. Priority will be given to those who have been using the gardens the longest.

11 gardens across the city have already been closed but as many as 30 others are known to be contaminated. Considering their importance as social spaces, not to mention their role in providing their users with a source of healthy food, it’s amazing that so little has been done to provide alternatives to those gardens that have been closed. So far, the city has said that it hopes to decontaminate and re-open the closed gardens by 2010, which strikes me as an awfully long time for gardeneners to be deprived of their plots.

Why isn’t more being done to think outside the box (or, in this case, the garden plot)? Alternative forms of community gardening, such as container gardening, have been put to great use as part of McGill’s Edible Campus. While gardens in some of the city’s most marginalized neighbourhoods are closed—the three most recently-closed gardens are all located in Little Burgundy and Point St. Charles—container gardening could be an effective way to maintain the gardens’ usefulness.

7 comments

  1. Pingback: Patio » More community gardens to be closed

  2. That’s just brutal. I’m sure those gardens mean a lot to the people who tended them. I don’t understand why they have to be closed if the vegetables aren’t unhealthy to consume.

    It’s funny how quickly the city moves to close down community gardens but allows all kinds of other toxic industry to flourish.

    If they close it and really do something about it, then I’ll stop complaining. If they just close it, well that would be very depressing and typical.

  3. Here in Tamaki Auckland, Aotearoa NZ, we have had problems with contaminated soil. Soil in kindergartens and playgrounds were replaced within a matter of weeks, not years.

    Tell the Montreal Council to contact Auckland City Council and ask them how remediation is done in weeks, not years.

    Cheers,
    Christopher.

  4. I can`t believe that the city is still delaying things and now says 2010 to re-open closed gardens. I am a member of the oldest community garden in Montreal, and since we have been closed (last year it was open for flower gardening only) there has been next to no news or updates. I did manage to chat with one of the representatives of the city, and got more run around and was told that they are still looking at options. After more than a year you would think that they would have atleast some idea of what to do.
    I think the most disappointing thing is that the spaces are hard to get to begin with, and now that more and more community gardens are closing there is little or no option for most of us.
    So much for a green city….

  5. what does ‘decontamination’ entail? i would think that growing flowers and vegetables etc would be the best way to decontaminate [but i am no expert]. and it’s a lot better than just having these spaces sit around empty to only keep toxins in. we need a mel chin, here.

  6. I was researching urban agriculture and stumbled upon this article which raised an old ghost of mine, pollution from PM10. Urban gardens are a wonderful concept, very sustainable, very relaxing: but what about contamination from combustion, being in town,in particular rooftop gardens I would have suspected it to be a problem.
    Does any body know if there is an Municipal waste incinerator around, and if yes are the plots downwind to it. Or what about car traffic?

  7. What is the current status of Montreal’s closed gardens? Will they be open for the Spring 11 season?

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