VOLUNTEERS who built a community garden in Morley fear Bayswater council will kick them out when their peppercorn lease expires next month.
The council is considering giving the “underutilised” old kindy site to another group or selling it.
Pat Lim, 84, is chair of Bayswater City Community Safety Watch and Garden Education Inc.
Despite her advanced years she spends most of her free time at the Brand Place garden, cleaning, weeding, watering, and helping volunteers and dole workers who tend dozens of beds filled with veggies.
She’s personally donated about $20,000 and spent hundreds of hours getting it up and running, but fears “the dream has gone down the gurgler”.
A tour of the site shows plenty of thriving greenery, but a report from Bayswater council staff says “although plans have been in place for the development of a community garden … there has been little progress towards this.
It says there has been “limited evidence of community involvement to date associated with the site”, there’s few members and it’s not financially viable.
Ms Lim says they have around 57 members and the report was “biased to the hilt” and a slap in the face to all the community groups, schools, volunteers and local businesses who put in so much work.
She submitted a list of 48 actions she’d taken to improve the site, including the hundreds of garden pots, baskets and garden beds she’d donated and the two new toilets she’d had installed in the kindy.
Ms Lim says that once the garden is established she wants to get more of the community involved, but they can’t commit unless they know they’ll be around for the long haul.
Friend and green warrior Greg Smith has seen his share of council reports as a town planner and says the latest was “designed to kill off the community garden … it is an unbalanced, unobjective assessment”.
At a Bayswater committee meeting last Wednesday, councillors Dan Bull, Chris Cornish and Sally Palmer voted to leave the community garden be.
Councillors Stephanie Coates, Catherine Ehrhardt, John Rifici and mayor Barry McKenna voted to hold a workshop to discuss their options.
Mr Smith reckons they’re just kicking the can down the road to delay the decision and the workshop’s an illusory consultation.
Ms Lim fears it’s a fait accompli and they’ll have to remove their upgrades and hand the key’s back within a matter of weeks.
“It’s devastating,” she says. “It’s heartbreaking. It’s nonsensical. You just can’t find the right words.”
“I’m hopping mad, but I’m not going to let the anger overwhelm my joy for life.”
by DAVID BELL