Legal and Policy Barriers to Community Gardening in Winnipeg, Canada

Mikulec, Philip; Diduck, Alan P.; Froese, Beverly; Unger, Heather; MacKenzie, Kathryn
December 2013
Canadian Journal of Urban Research;Winter2013, Vol. 22 Issue 2, p69
Academic Journal
Community gardening can provide important social, economic, and environmental benefits, including enhanced community cohesion, greater food security, and reclamation of vacant lots. More and more cities in North America are recognizing these benefits, and Winnipeg is no exception. In 2009 it adopted a policy stating that it views community gardens as beneficial for supporting healthy communities and improving the quality of life in neighbourhoods. This research investigated the extent to which the legal and policy framework governing community gardening enables or hinders gardening initiatives. The focus of the work was the inner city. Our methods were an analysis of legislation and policy documents, participant observation, focus groups with gardening coordinators, City officials and gardeners, and key informant interviews. The results revealed important legal and policy barriers, e.g., the use of license agreements rather than leases to grant access to City land, the short-term nature of the agreements, incentives for infill development in the inner city, and lack of political and planning support for establishing more green space in the city. Lowering the barriers will require better dialogue and partnerships among neighbourhood associations, gardeners and the City. It will also require the City to fully integrate community gardening into its environmental planning framework.


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