From: Events, RBG In the News

February 2013: City Council Hearing on Horse Hill Area

In February 2013, Janelle spoke at the public hearing on the Horse Hill Area Structure Plan. Below is a copy of the speech she presented at that time.

Hello Councillors.

My name is Janelle Herbert. My husband, Aaron, and I own and operate Riverbend Gardens. Riverbend Gardens is a 3rd generation market garden within the Area Structure Plan. My grandparents started bought the farm in 1958. We own 140 acres within the ASP and have the unique benefit of being on the River. This farmland is one-of-a-kind.

We sell at 7 Edmonton and area farmers’ markets, and we have a CSA – Community Supported Agriculture – box delivery program where we deliver vegetables to 5 locally owned and operated food businesses where our customers can pick up fresh local produce.

In the last five years I have had 3 babies, my mom lost her three year battle with breast cancer, I have thrived through the sharp learning curves of farming and running a business, and I have advocated for agricultural land in the north east because I believe in the value of local food. This agricultural land has great value – not only economically, but in ensuring a sustainable food source for Edmonton and area. The community value of this is immeasurable.

I love what I do, and I find great purpose in it. I see a bright future in Edmonton’s local food economy and I see great things already happening here in Edmonton. We have loyal customers and supporters and it is them who have encouraged me to persevere through the challenges of farming. I push through the hard times because that’s what farmers do; it’s in my blood.

I want to make it clear: I want to continue farming and serving my community, and am doing everything in my capacity to make that happen. I firmly believe agriculture WILL continue to thrive in Edmonton like it has for the past 60 years. And I would like to see food growing land passed down to the children of Edmonton.

It is difficult for me to understand all the policies and planning involved in the ASP. But I know what is right, and it is RIGHT to continue farming this invaluable land. Please look at the map and where my farm is. The proposed highway would wipe out my house, all of our infrastructure, our access to the river, all our buildings, barns, greenhouses, and our livelihood. This proposed plan sterilizes land for us all.

I have been given no good reason why the proposed highway has been placed on top of my property. From my understanding, the proposed ASP is a way for the Province to get backdoor approval for expropriation. Putting the highway on the ASP is premature. It takes away the rights that landowners and the community would normally have in an expropriation process. I don’t accept that the Province is telling Edmonton how to plan our city, and you shouldn’t either.

I want the opportunity to be heard before the Capital Region Board before the proposed ASP gets approved. I want to participate in a fair and just process as a landowner and stakeholder in this plan and in our city. I want to be assured that all aspects of this proposal have been considered, including the impact on landowners.

The proposed ASP was created by Stantec, who were hired by the Walton, Crest and Cameron developments. Proponents of the ASP are determining the placement of a Provincial highway. As is, my land would end up being in two different neighbourhoods and my uncle’s land (Norbest Farms) would be split into three different neighbourhoods. This will destroy any possibility of farming operations. Passing the proprosed ASP means that the line on the map would no longer be conceptual; it would be real and it would destroy land and lives.

It IS possible to be in one neighbourhood. It IS possible to preserve this invaluable land for agriculture, preserve our local food economy and move the highway. This would be a win-win solution – for landowners, citizens, the City of Edmonton and the Province.

Please understand I want to continue farming, and continue providing food to the people of Edmonton. Riverbend Gardens and the citizens of Edmonton need you to vote against the proposed ASP.