Published by City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture


Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation

Community Gardens Policy

It is not unusual to find community gardens in major cities. What is hard to find is an officially adopted "policy" which supports and encourages community gardens. The City of Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation approved such a policy this spring (April, 1996).

The vast majority of people support the policy. However there are a few people who oppose the decision. Some of their comments are attached at the bottom of this page

Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation
2099 Beach Avenue Vancouver, B.C. V6G 1Z4
Phone: (604) 257-8400 Fax: (604) 257-8427

The Policy


The Board recognizes community gardening as a valuable recreation activity that can contribute to community development, environmental awareness, positive social interaction and community education. The Board will collaborate with interested groups in assisting the development of community gardens.

For the purposes of this policy, a community garden is defined as a community environmental education program operated by a non-profit society. The program has the following features:

Clause One:

The Board will support the development of community gardens in Vancouver through the following means:

Clause Two:

If it is determined that park land is the most suitable site for community gardens, the following conditions will apply:

Further information on the policy.


The policy commits the Board to helping groups find resource information on gardens and locate suitable sites in the City. It also describes the conditions that must apply if it is determined that a park site is to be used for a community garden.

It is the intention of the policy that groups interested in establishing community gardens prepare an inventory of all land in the neighbourhood that might be suitable for such a purpose. Board staff will assist in this search.

If it is determined that a park is the only suitable site for a garden, the policy also recognizes the need to ascertain if there is neighbourhood support for the project. This is consistent with the process used for all park development projects.

As a result of the public consultation process, a number of changes have been made to the policy.

  1. The original proposal contained a requirement that "Use of an allotment plot cannot exceed two years. At the end of the second year, the holder of the plot can have his or her name added to the bottom of the waiting list." Garden enthusiasts objected to this clause stating that the 2 year tenure was too short in terms of the effort and commitment necessary to develop a mature plot. Members of existing gardening societies also made the point that there is a reasonable natural turn-over of plot holders that occurs each year. Also, staff, in reviewing all of the material collected from Municipalities across Canada and part of the U.S. could not find any examples of community gardens where such a clause was considered necessary. As a result this item has been deleted from the proposed policy.

  2. During the consultation process many supporters of community gardens made the point that there is a difference between an "allotment garden" and a "community garden" While an allotment garden may in fact be defined as only a piece of land used by individuals to produce food and flowers for the personal use of society members, a community garden goes beyond that to include common areas that are not allotted to individuals, and education programs that involve schools and youth groups in gardening activities. As a result of this input, the definition of the policy has been changed to reflect this concept.

The proposed policy also recommends a number of specific terms that should be included in any lease with a society. The rational for these items are outline below:

The opinions of those opposed to the policy.

"Park gardens are a misuse of public lands. Parks are established for the use of all. Many of our lovely public parks have children's playgrounds, tennis courts, bowling greens, soccer fields, tracks, picnic tables and beautiful gardens and trees.

"But cut any of this into a garden allotment, and it is now for the use and enjoyment of only one person. It becomes, in effect, a piece of private land. This is wrong, unethical and absolutely contrary to the intent of the charters which gave us our parks."

"It seems to be a 'feel-good' type of thing on the face of it, but it is very wrong. When you look at it closely, you have to ask how many people can benefit from it. There are other public lands we could utilize. Let's get away from, every time we want land, looking at public parks."

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Revised April 8, 2001

Published by City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture