Saskatoon committee votes in favour of gardening on medians, final decision to be made by city council

Gardening on medians is one step closer to becoming a reality in Saskatoon the local committee on environment, utilities and corporate services voted in favour of a plan. Final approval of the plan is still needed from council.

Gardening on boulevards has been allowed since 2015

Details about scope, what can be grown and what kinds of containers would be allowed are yet to come.  (Fiona Odlum )

Gardening on medians is one step closer to becoming a reality in Saskatoon.

The committee on environment, utilities and corporate services voted in favour of a plan to allow the practice, but city council will have the final say.

The plan would allow people to apply to maintain temporary gardening structures on medians in front of their property. These pieces of land are city-owned, but residents are overwhelmingly in favour of developments like this one. 

Nancy Hanson, president of the Saskatoon Horticultural Society, said fixtures like boulevard gardens are becoming increasingly popular and there is a demand to expand the program. 

"I think it's a good opportunity to use some space, especially in the newer neighbourhoods that seem to have very small yards," she said. "And there's a lot of younger people now that want to grow their own vegetables. Especially during the pandemic, people are looking for something to do and also to provide some food for themselves."

Adding gardens on the medians would be an expansion of the policy that has permitted gardening on boulevards since 2015. The main reason the city hasn't permitted permanent structures is that they might interfere with snow removal. 

"Option 2 for program expansion is recommended since it responds to resident preference, is expected to have the highest level of participation, has the fewest equity barriers, is consistent with the City's administrative approach for similar programs, aligns with best practices in other jurisdictions, and is not expected to result in a greater incidence of bylaw non-compliance," according to a report from the city. 

Option 1 was to leave the policy as-is, and Option 3 was the same as option two (the expansion to centre medians) but with an added fee.

"I think it would be nice to have the medians planted as well," said Hanson. "I think the guidelines will probably have to be similar [to boulevard gardens] because you'll have to keep sight lines in mind for vehicles and that kind of thing. But I think it would be a good idea."

City council approval is still needed and money would have to be earmarked in the next city budget for the plan to go ahead. 

"Option 2 requires $50,000 in operating funding starting in 2022. Administrative costs for expansion of education, marketing, and communications for the enhanced program, and to administer the application process would cost $40,000," according to the report. 

Details about scope, what can be grown, what kind of containers will be allowed are yet to come.


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