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Feb 24,2008 - The Province

Kent Spencer, The Province
Published: Sunday, February 24, 2008

Port Moody council wants to sell a community garden to pay for a road, which has angered at least one critic.

"Selling the garden to raise funds is wrong," council critic Hazel Mason insisted yesterday.

The half-hectare parcel is in popular Rocky Point Park on the city's picturesque waterfront.

The Inlet Community Garden, at 3002 Murray St., has been used for private residential plots.

"It's a community garden where apartment-bound people grow their whatever," said Mason.

"Rocky Point Park was only 9.5 acres to begin with. We've already given up a chunk for a restaurant. We're adding 12,000 people to Port Moody. We need our parks.

"Council is not informing the community properly. Too much discussion goes on behind closed doors," she said.

The Community Garden's green-and-white sign is painted in keeping with the city's parks scheme, but Mayor Joe Trasolini says it was never meant to be a garden forever.

"Three years ago, when the lands were made into a community garden, we made it very clear it would have to [be taken away] at some point. I understand some people looking after the garden would be concerned.

"The lands were bought by the province in the 1980s in anticipation of the overpass. They're not directly needed for the overpass but belong to the project," he said.

The garden is zoned light industrial. Mason fears it could end up as a boat-repair shop or doggie day care, both of which are across the street.

"That scares me," she said.

Funds raised from the sale, which is in the works but not yet approved by council, would contribute to a $50-million TransLink overpass spanning the railway. It will connect Murray and Clarke roads as part of the major feeder network.

Port Moody is planning to raise its $4-million share by selling the garden and several similar parcels.

"We will try to sell the lands at full market value," said city manager Gaetan Royer. "They are being marketed by a realtor." The overpass is aimed at alleviating a massive traffic bottleneck created on Burrard Inlet.

It will be a four-lane land bridge, replacing the current two lanes.

The project was approved by TransLink in December and should be completed in 16 to 18 months.

Trasolini said large apartment towers were approved with the knowledge that it would be built.

"The connector is much awaited," he said.

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