On May 1st, the City of Montreal announced that it will proceed with the opening of community gardens throughout the city, beginning on May 4th—with approval from the public health department—and gradually ramping up to an opening to the public on May 18th.
The announcement couldn't have come at a better time, as those who are registered to use community gardens are getting the green light to grow their own food. "(They) are more than just a hobby," stated Mayor Valérie Plante in the city's press release. Gardens "allow (Montrealers) to feed their families and to obtain fresh produce at a low cost. Nothing will be left to chance, and we will make sure that community gardens remain safe and that public health directives are applied.”
The city plans to collaborate with public health to impose all necessary measures surrounding the use of these community spaces, from hygiene to physical distancing rules, with a proposition on controlling access being tabled for the time being. Here's the breakdown of how community gardens will work in Montreal:
- Anyone who wishes to access the space will need to schedule their visits beforehand to avoid overcrowding and facilitate social distancing.
- Gardeners will also have to bring their own tools, and wear gloves at all times.
- Water taps, work and storage areas, shared space and frequently touched areas will be cleaned regularly, and disinfecting supplies will be provided.
- Prevention measures will be posted and staff will be hired to control access to the gardens and inform gardeners of the directives to follow.
- Horticulture instructors and guards will also ensure that public health recommendations are observed.
The most important thing to note? If you haven't signed up to use community gardens previously, then you're out of luck: No new registrations are being accepted; only those who have registered last year will have access to gardens, with the date to pay registration fees being postponed until the reopening of the city's Accès Montréal offices. It's a problematic part of the city's gardening system, as some are left to wait for years until they will have a chance to grow a single potato.
The mayor and her administration plan to unveil an integrated vision of agriculture in Montréal at a later date which will focused on "(guiding) the city's actions in this respect," as well as projects such as increasing agricultural productions in the West Island and moving forward with the Grand parc de l'Ouest.