By: KIRSTEN FENN
The Carleton University Graduate Students’ Association is holding an emergency meeting Wednesday after discovering that the university plans to build a new residence overtop of the association’s community garden.
The Kitigànensag GSA Community Garden was constructed north of Carleton’s Leeds residence building in the spring of 2012 to provide students with space to grow their own food on campus for free. Its first growing season began in May 2013.
The garden supplements the Carleton University Students’ Association’s Food Centre with fresh produce such as tomatoes, onions and corn when it can, said community garden manager Chris Bisson.
GSA president Grant MacNeil said he was aware this summer that a new residence would be built on campus, but was not informed by administration until a few weeks ago that it would replace the community garden.
Sites for new facilities on campus are identified in the university’s master plan for development, said Darryl Boyce, assistance vice-president of facilities management and planning at Carleton.
“We made it clear from the beginning that when a building needs to be built there, then the site will have to be relocated, and they were prepared to do that,” Boyce said.
MacNeil said when the contract between the GSA and the administration was signed for the garden it was the belief that any relocation would be years down the line, “not after one growing season.”
The GSA is holding a meeting Wednesday to ask for input from the garden’s members, who have put hundreds of volunteer hours into the garden’s construction and maintenance.
The community garden was blessed and named by an Algonquin elder at the beginning of its first harvest, as it is located on unceded Algonquin territory.
“We tried to make sure the spot was a site of decolonization,” MacNeil said, “and now we have to talk about moving and getting kicked off the spot where it is.”
“It just adds to the sadness that our gardeners have around this,” he said.
Boyce said it makes the most logistical sense to construct the new residence building near the existing ones.
“I don’t know what else we could do,” he said.
Once the administration has discussed potential sites for the relocation of the garden, they will be presented to the GSA for discussion, Boyce said.
Boyce said there is plenty of time to relocate the garden, as the new residence will not be open to students until 2016. The garden’s relocation would be done at a time that would not disrupt a growing season, either this winter or next fall, Boyce said.
“It’s a garden. I mean I know they really like it and that’s great and we were happy to be able to work with them to put [the garden] there but it’s relatively easy to move,” he said.