Calgary’s largest urban farm is likely to be uprooted after the province informed them one month ago of its right to move them from the ring road transportation corridor.
Grow Calgary founder Paul Hughes recognizes the province’s right to demand they leave the transportation corridor for the construction of the final leg of Calgary’s ring road, but standing near the location’s “earth ship” Thursday afternoon on Grow Calgary’s northwest Calgary compound overlooking the highway’s construction, he can’t see why they’d need it.
“We are not here to impede,” Hughes said.
“If it’s needed then of course you need to use that resource. But, we’re not needed.”
Hughes said, according to the province’s own maps, his location isn’t relatively near Stoney Trail. It’s an access to Stoney Trail that runs adjacent to Grow Calgary – an access he says has always been there for the Trans-Canada Highway.
A letter obtained by LiveWire Calgary from Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Shannon Flint dated July 5, 2018, stated that Alberta Infrastructure “appreciates the work of Grow Calgary in the provision of fresh produce to social food agencies in Calgary,” and then goes on to review the lease agreement stating they’re on the Transportation Utility Corridor and that the land may be required for the ring road’s construction.
It continues: “The Transportation Utility Corridor is now required for the West Calgary Ring Road project.”
When asked about the specific need for the 11-acre Grow Calgary lease area, the province reiterated the above, but wasn’t able to provide a specific use.
“Approximately half of the land leased by Grow Calgary since 2013 is within a Transportation Utility Corridor, and that land is now required for the West Calgary Ring Road project,” read an emailed statement attributed to Alberta Infrastructure.
Grow Calgary’s neighbour, the New Victory Church, is a literal stone’s throw away from the farm’s carrot patch, said Brad Dewar, Victory’s Executive Director, Church Planting, but they’re unaffected by the ring road construction.
“We’re not facing on to the ring road, we’re still facing on to the Trans-Canada. Even though it passes very, very close to us here, we’re technically not moving from any corridor that is still in place, and nothing’s changed in that regard,” Dewar said.
This prospect perplexes Hughes and he feels it may have something to do with the political tumult that came with the sprouting of his urban farm.
The province, however, said the direction has nothing to do with politics, but instead, the terms of the lease. They’re intention is to assist in the relocation of the farm to a suitable location.
“Alberta Infrastructure appreciates Grow Calgary’s urban farming activities and is working to identify a new location and support the moving of their operation,” their statement read.