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Former QE2 high school site could become urban farm

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Queen Elizabeth High School is nothing but an empty building, but new initiatives from Capital Health’s Partners for Care, a charity organization in charge of Capital Health’s business plans, may bring about some growth. The group has been toying with the idea of an urban farm and hopes to discuss its ideas with the community this weekend.

“We’re not aware of other places where hospitals are doing this,” says John Gillis, of Capital Health. “But we’re certainly drawing on the expertise of people who are operating farms and gardens in urban areas.”

The former high school is set to be demolished by spring 2011.

As proposed, the urban farm would remain in place for five years before a long-term project is considered. “Once the site is cleared and landscaped, there would be some work required to bring it to a shape that would be suitable for a farm,” says Gillis.

According to Gillis, Sunday’s discussion is aimed at presenting the project to the community and figure out what is needed for the farm to function. Land-use and public accessibility will also be addressed.

Garity Chapman, an Urban Garden Coordinator of the Ecology Action Centre, says organizers hope to have the project implemented in future permanent plans for the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre.

“In an ideal situation, it would be a really successful project and, when they’re looking to develop the site, that there would be an option for the farm to be included in the redevelopment project,” says Chapman.

“I could start off quite simply,” said Chapman. “I think there are always options to have things like a greenhouse put up or a garden shed to hold tools, but really there’s really not a whole lot of infrastructure that’s needed. I think it’s something that would be built in a process over years.” The project could be put in place by the next growing season.

The public forum is Sunday November 21, 12:30-4:30 at the Guild Hall in Hotel Atlantica on Robie Street.

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