Cowichan Green Community may soon get its wish for a long-term lease to replace the five-year licence of occupation it has with the Municipality of North Cowichan for the more than three acres of municipally owned land at 2431 Beverly St. CGC has been working on for years.
CGC asked North Cowichan last year if the municipality would consider extending its licence of occupation from 10 to 30 years, or donate the land to the non-profit group, so it can continue with its well-advanced agricultural food hub project at the Beverly Street site with more certainty.
CGC’s current five-year licence of occupation expires in July.
Spokesman Chris Hall told council at its last meeting that having a deal to use the land for one to three decades would make CGC’s work much easier, and give it a longer window to look forward to for its many long-range plans for the site.
“Also, if we need to get into a long-term relationship with other partners, they might be more willing to participate with us if our tenure on the land is longer than five years,” he said.
Rob Conway, North Cowichan’s director of planning and building, said the municipality’s legal counsel has determined that the request would be better dealt with as a long-term lease, as opposed to another licence of occupation, because a lease is a better vehicle to securing tenure.
“We’re working on a legal agreement and we should bring it back within a month,” he said.
“We want CGC to see a draft of the lease before it goes to council to allow them time to review it and provide input.”
CGC began in 2001 as an environmental-based community outreach project delivered under the auspices of the Green Door Society.
Since then, the organization has grown to become an important hub for sustainability in the Cowichan Valley, with a strong focus on food security.
CGC has established farming initiatives and other programs, including an incubator seed farm and an agricultural equipment library, at the Beverly Street site.
Over the last few years, CGC has raised more than $1.2 million for its projects from a number of funding agencies, including $800,000 from the Ministry of Agriculture and $225,000 from the Federal Local Food Infrastructure Fund, and is one of just eight agricultural hubs in B.C. that has been designated so far by the province.
Some of the next steps planned for the Beverly Street property are to set up a commercial kitchen and processing areas, a food crop greenhouse, and a cold storage and a distribution space for the local Cow-op, the region’s first online farmers’ marketplace of locally grown and processed food.