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Grow Calgary deal moves them to the city’s southeast

Grow Calgary’s potential pumpkin turned into a chariot Monday, whisking them to a proposed new location in the city’s southeast after a last-minute deal was struck with the province.

The urban farm’s lease for the current 4.5 hectare location near WinSport was set to expire yesterday and though they were prepared to file an injunction preventing the location’s closure, Grow Calgary’s Paul Hughes said the province provided some long-term assurances at a new spot.

Last summer, Grow Calgary was ordered to vacate their property due to their proximity to the west leg of Calgary’s ring road, adjacent to the transportation utility corridor.

Hughes said the province proposed three, five-year rotating leases, with the intention of finding the group a forever home.

“We aren’t going to be putting up any permanent structures,” Hughes said, noting that even with the lease agreement in principle, the province couldn’t guarantee this would be the final location.

The new location is a 15-to-20-acre parcel north of 61 Avenue SE, just east of Stoney Trail. Hughes said the province is footing the $100,000 moving bill and providing $200,000 in leasehold improvements.

The proposed lease area for the new Grow Calgary location. COURTESY GROW CALGARY

The province did confirm Tuesday that an agreement had been reached, including the above mentioned costs.

“Since the beginning, we have been clear that we value the work that Grow Calgary does providing fresh produce to vulnerable populations. Late Monday night, we received a letter from Grow Calgary accepting our offer in principle,” read an emailed statement from Jennifer Burgess, press secretary for Alberta’s infrastructure minister.

“We know there’s a lot of work ahead and we’ll continue to work with Grow Calgary to support the work that they do. We are pleased that the Calgary Ring Road can continue to move forward as this project is critical to improving traffic for Calgarians.”

Hughes said the back and forth has been going on for months and could have been resolved sooner. Still, he said he finally got a full night of sleep Monday.

The new location offers more room to build, allowing up to 200 square meters of greenhouse space and the ability to have animals on the property.

“There’s a lot of potential in this new place to have a real, much more viable farm,” Hughes said.

“It feels pretty good today.”

Hughes hopes to have the move completed by the end of February.