NDG beehive pits gardener against borough

A gardener in the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough is facing eviction from his community garden for setting up a beehive without approval.

Matthew Trowell says his hive is safe and will benefit the community

Trowell has received a first warning to dismantle his beehive. If he doesn't do so after a second warning, he could face eviction from the community garden. (CBC)

A gardener in the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough could face eviction from his community garden for setting up a beehive on his plot without the necessary approval.

Matthew Trowell has spent the summer building the structure that houses the hive, hoping it would be approved by the time it was ready for the bees.

He told CBC News that the hive is his contribution to efforts to save declining bee populations, and help other gardeners in the process.

“The main reason was a fellow gardener and his concern for his crops of tomatoes that were not being pollinated,” Trowell said.

He’s paid out of his own pocket for the structure and for a professional beekeeping service to supply the bees and look after them over the next two years.

However, the organization in charge of NDG’s three community gardens, Action Communiterre, sent Trowell a letter telling him to dismantle the hive — or face eviction.

Bee hive structure too large

“Matt went through the process too fast and we asked him to step back and follow the process that was suggested by the city,” organization spokeswoman Julia Girard told CBC News.

Girard said there are no rules against keeping bees in community gardens, but the hive that Trowell is building is taller than garden bylaws allow.

“You can't have a structure higher than five feet,” Girard said.

I’m not rushing, but there are people that are really dragging their feet.- Matthew Trowell, beehive builder

She also questioned whether the community garden is the best location for a hive, saying a rooftop with controlled access is more ideally suited for one.

“The best place to keep bees is in a quiet environment… this garden has a lot of activity, there’s a daycare nearby, there’s a school nearby,” Girard said.

Trowell said the hive will be stocked and serviced by professional beekeepers. (CBC)

Trowell, however, said the letter is “outrageous” given what he says is the approval he’s received from 39 of the garden’s 40 plot title holders.

“I’m not rushing, but there are people that are really dragging their feet. The prospect of this never happening at all is very real to me,” he said.

The borough has the final say on whether Trowell can go forward with his project.

However, NDG city councillor Peter McQueen said the borough council needs more time to determine if Trowell’s hive is in the in the best interest of residents and other gardeners.

The letter was deemed a first warning. Trowell will receive another warning if he doesn't dismantle the hive. 

He faces eviction from the garden if he doesn't heed that second warning.