August 11, 2018 7:50 pm

Grow Calgary asked to move for ring road construction

Grow Calgary, a community farm, is asking for more clarity before being forced to move as ring road construction gets underway. Michael King reports.

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Grow Calgary, the largest urban farm in Canada, has been asked to move in order to make way for the west leg of Calgary’s ring road.

The farm is a non-profit agriculture producer that donates its harvests to charities across Calgary, such as Inn from the Cold.

All of the produce is grown on land leased from the province — but now Grow Calgary has been asked to leave.

READ MORE: Grow Calgary ready for new season


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Alberta’s Ministry of Infrastructure said it was it clear at the start the land was earmarked for the future ring road expansion project.

The land is part of the Transportation Utility Corridor (TUC) and Grow Calgary has been leasing the 11-acre parcel since 2013. The TUC enables the province to build infrastructure such as ring roads, power lines and pipelines.

Paul Hughes, the founder of Grow Calgary, wants to know how the land will be used before the farm has to move.

“We have a very good working relationship with infrastructure and with the Alberta government,” Hughes said. “But now we’re asking some questions.”

Hughes said Grow Calgary has not received enough information during the planning process of the ring road.

“We feel that it’s time to ask some questions and get some real answers so that I can justify to the 25,000 volunteers that we will be moving.”

In a letter to Grow Calgary, Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Shannon Flint wrote that relocating the non-profit to another piece of provincially-owned land is a possibility.

“There are limited parcels of land in Calgary’s Transportation Utility Corridor that could be used to relocate Grow Calgary, should you be interested. We will continue to work with you to find the parcel that would fit your work.”

READ MORE: Grow Calgary gets growing

Many people involved with Grow Calgary believe relocation would undo six years of hard work. Hughes said he has spent those years creating acres of healthy and fertile soil, something that is done over several growing seasons.

Sphere Foster, a volunteer with Grow Calgary, has spent significant time working on the Earthship, a year-round greenhouse made of natural and recycled material. Foster said a move would send his project back to square one.

“The Earthship is literally an immovable object,” Foster said. ”The only thing that can happen is that it’s demolished and we build it somewhere else.”

The deadline for the farm to vacate the land is Dec. 31, with construction for this part of the ring road slated for 2019.

If Grow Calgary does have to move, it would set the non-profit farm back nearly $50,000.

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