Keep community and allotment gardens open for food

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Keep community and allotment gardens open for food

This petition had 5,314 supporters
Toronto Urban Growers started this petition to Toronto City Council

As community gardeners and supporters of growing food in the city, we applaud the City of Toronto’s position that, to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus, physical distancing is a top priority. 

In keeping with the spirit of protecting the health of all Toronto residents, we request that the City remove restrictions on community and allotment gardens on or before May 1, 2020 with the following stipulations:

  • Gardens will only be open to gardeners, staff assigned to gardens and official garden volunteers. Gardens will be closed to the public and no gatherings will be permitted until physical distancing measures are lifted. 
  • Gardens will adopt the Best Practices for COVID-19 in Community and Allotment Gardens in Toronto and develop site-specific plans to maintain physical distancing and sanitary procedures. Plans will be posted at garden sites and shared with all gardeners. 

Rationale

Gardens have the capacity to maintain the physical distancing and hygiene practices necessary to combat the spread of COVID-19. They can also be powerful channels for educating the public about containment measures.

Community and allotment gardens are not merely recreation sites, they are important ways for low income and marginalized people (particularly Black, Indigenous and people of colour) to grow the food they need to stay healthy. When 28.4% of Black households face food insecurity compared to 10% of White households, the City must support any effort to improve food access for Black communities, including increasing garden spaces available to Black and Indigenous people.  

The Province of Ontario recognized food production as an essential service in its COVID-19 emergency declaration. Both food businesses and non-profit organizations responsible for providing food are exempt from closure.

Public safety can be protected better by addressing breaches of physical distancing protocols when they occur, rather than closing down facilities that are essential services for many people and that can and do demonstrate good practices. 

Other large cities, such as New York, have implemented these protocols, recognizing the importance of community gardens and the ability to maintain public safety. 

The City must ensure that its efforts to protect citizens do not negatively impact people living on low incomes and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of colour) communities. We can’t afford to deepen the divisions in our society, particularly during a public health crisis.

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This petition had 5,314 supporters

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