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RFD- 3646 Business Items   Item #   10. f.    
Regular Council Meeting Agenda
Meeting Date: 06/24/2019  
Title:    Community Orchards - Levasseur
Department: Corporate Services  
Strategic Vision Element: Where People Choose to Live - A dynamic city with an exceptional quality of life Related Goal: There are a number of active and engaged community groups involved in the development, promotion and implementation of leisure, recreational and sporting infrastructure, amenities and activities.

Request for Decision Summary
 A notice of motion was brought forward by Councillor Stevenson at the Regular Council meeting on Monday, June 10, 2019 to explore developing a community orchard within the City of Spruce Grove. 

Proposed Motion
That Administration explore developing a community orchard as part of the 2020-2022 Corporate Planning Process and that an interim report be brought back to Council prior to the corporate plan deliberations. 
The City has previously approved the planting of an apple orchard as part of the McLaughlin stage 2c development phase in 2013.  This bed included 25 apple trees representing 5 different cultivars.  This same development included the planting of numerous saskatoon, raspberry, and strawberry plants within shrub beds in the park.  Originally there appeared to be only limited awareness of the existence of these fruit producing plants among residents that live nearby, but it is now thought that there are people engaged with the apple trees and are likely harvesting the fruit.

While a few of the apple trees have not survived, the others are now established. A recent inspection found no remaining strawberry plants in the beds but many of the other fruit bearing plants are established. Staff advise that residents have commented that they are missing the strawberries they once picked. Specialized or extra maintenance has not been provided to any great extent since the inventory was turned over to the City, but staff have indicated they are aware of the current plant mortality and the need to re-plant in some areas.  It is also clear that the apple trees require pruning this year.   

Based on the City's limited experience to date it appears the growing of plants that produce edible fruit can be undertaken where there is a desire to use an orchard to either produce food, provide a leisure pursuit for residents, or as an educational opportunity.  However, there are a few implications or considerations to growing fruit in the public landscape and these need to be addressed through any future corporate plan initiative.

An interim report would need to capture Council's vision of what a community orchard would look like in our community and a number of factors would have to examined to properly scope the project.  Some of the key variables to look at would be:

  • Model -  Is the community orchard to involve individual community members or groups in its maintenance and care, or is it to be operated entirely by the municipality?   Or, will it require a partnership between the City and community members?

  • Location -  There may be advantages to a single location or multiple sites depending on the program goals or the operational model chosen.  If the orchard is to be built on City lands is there a desire to build in the proximity of City pathways or other amenities?

  • Size - How big should the orchard be and what type of trees, shrubs or vines should be grown?

  • Access -  Is the intent to make edible fruits or nuts available to anyone who wants to pick them or will controls be put in place?

  • Costs - What are the initial construction and long term costs to operate the orchard?  Will the initial construction of orchards be funded by the City, community groups or developers?

  • Impacts - Depending on the model chosen and the size of the orchard, what might be the impact on City resources if an orchard or orchards were developed?

  • Risks -   Are there any risks or liabilities to the City associated with the development of an orchard that is publicly accessible and can they be mitigated through policy development?

  • Consultation  - Are there individuals or groups in the community who would like to be involved in the development of a community orchard? Would citizens be opposed to the development of an orchard due to a proposed location or for another reason?

  • Research - What has been the experience of other communities who have developed orchards? What are the risks and opportunities? What are the pitfalls and best practices and what can we learn from them so we avoid concepts that don't work?
Consultation to date has been limited to discussions with Public Works staff and a brief online review of orchard developments in other Alberta communities.
The corporate planning process for the 2020-2022 is well underway as initiatives have been submitted and are in the process of being prioritized administratively. A degree of flexibility has been built into this process to address emergent needs through amendments to the draft corporate plan. If this motion passes, Administration will prepare a late corporate plan initiative that will be added to the list of draft 2020-2022 initiatives. 

Once Administration has scoped out this initiative, a report will be provided back to Council. This report will come before Council or Committee as an administrative update in advance of this year's corporate plan deliberations, which are scheduled to take place between October 28-30. 
This initiative may have positive impacts related to leisure, a healthy population and citizen satisfaction with municipal services.
No file(s) attached.

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