New Brunswick

Front-yard vegetable garden brings 'a lot of smiles,' but City of Moncton wants it gone

A Moncton man is hopeful he'll be able to keep a unqiue garden he built in his front yard. Sylvain Ward says he and his son designed the garden, which has wooden structures and arches, to brighten up the neighbourhood in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sylvain Ward says someone complained to the city about his garden

Sylvain Ward says his garden was inspired by the story of a Canadian woman who moved to Australia and made friends by growing a garden. (Kate Letterick/CBC News )

Sylvain Ward never imagined a project he built with his son would cause such a stir.

Ward designed a garden for his front yard, complete with wooden arches and planters that would eventually take the shape of sailing ships.

He is growing mostly beans and peas, and the arches save space, allowing vertical growth.

Ward, who is also a set designer, thought it would be a great way to meet his neighbours.

"We were in a pandemic, and in the pandemic we felt a little bit isolated, and we saw that the neighbours were walking a lot more than usual," Ward said. "So why not create something on our front lawn, to be in our front lawn instead of hiding behind the house." 

Ward said many neighbours stopped by to have a look.

Ward says many people have stopped by to have a look at the vegetable garden. (Kate Letterick/CBC News)

"We wanted to inspire a community feeling. We wanted to create something beautiful for the neighbourhood for the community and maybe inspire other people on the street to do the same thing." he said.

But someone registered a complaint with the City of Moncton urban planning department.

Ward said he received a letter on June 1, telling him zoning bylaws determined a front-yard garden is not consistent with the city's definition of "landscaping," and it would have to be removed.

Ward said he was surprised.

Moncton man fights to keep his unique front lawn — arches and all

3 years ago
Duration 2:30
This Moncton man's front-yard garden has wooden structures and arches. The city wants him to take it down, but he's fighting to keep it up because he says it brightens the neighbourhood.

"We had a lot of thumbs up, a lot of smiles," he said. "It was really nice to have people smiling in front of our house while we were having a weird time during this pandemic.

"We like to say that maybe it was because our tomatoes were too loud at night."

Ward posted pictures of the garden on Facebook and received more than 175 comments, most of them positive.

He also tried to submit the garden as art, sending a 3D computer rendering of his design to the city. But he said that was also rejected.

Bill Budd, the city’s director of urban planning, says his department will do some research on how gardens and urban agriculture are handled in other Canadian municipalities. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Bill Budd, the director of urban planning, said in a statement that a garden similar to what was constructed in the front yard would only be allowed in the backyard.

The zoning bylaw "does not expressly contemplate fruit/or vegetable gardens as it is currently written," Budd  acknowledged.

"As a result of this, urban planning will undertake some research on best practice used as it relates to the gardens and urban agriculture in other Canadian municipalities and explore how this may be incorporated in to the zoning bylaw," Budd wrote.

Ward, working in the garden, says he's growing mostly peas and beans. (Pierre Fournier/CBC News)

The city says the front lawn garden issue is under review, so Ward will be keeping the garden, at least for the time being.

Ward says his communication with the city over the last month has been positive, and he's hopeful the by-law will be changed.

As for whether people like his garden or not, Ward says beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

"It's entirely up to them if they think it's ugly, it's up to them. If they think it's beautiful it's up to them. Also I'm more than willing to discuss that with them." he said.

"We are doing something for us and if it pleases people that's great."


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