Colleen O’Farrell grows most of the flowers for her arrangements in her own yard – including her favourites, ranunculus. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Saanich florist holds her ground in fight for roadside farm stands

Council to consider pausing enforcement of bylaw banning farm stands

Colleen O’Farrell never expected her flower stand to lead to a battle with Saanich council and a storm of media attention.

The florist has operated Foxglove Flowers for several years but the COVID-19 pandemic has led to many celebrations that typically include flowers being cancelled. In an effort to repurpose her flowers, she opened a farm cart in her front yard in mid-March.

However, Saanich bylaws don’t permit roadside farm carts in the Urban Containment Boundary (UCB) and on April 22, bylaw officers stopped by to give O’Farrell 30 days to shut down her stand.

READ ALSO: Saanich looks at relaxing farm stand ban

For O’Farrell – a self-proclaimed “behind the scenes person,” – going up against the municipality has been “an intense lesson in local politics.”

She never set out to break the rules or cause problems – she simply wanted to keep making floral arrangements and bring colour to people’s lives.

“I was literally trying to give flowers and smiles away,” before the stand grew into a revenue stream, O’Farrell explained. While her focus is typically on helping people celebrate big events, she’s shifted to the smaller moments that can still be celebrated such as an elopement or a sunny walk through the neighbourhood.

For O’Farrell, the stand has fostered a sense of community in her neighbourhood and beyond – building new friendships and stronger connections.

“I didn’t realize this was what I needed,” she said.

READ ALSO: Support blooms as Saanich flower stand operator takes on bylaw

Most of council either reached out or stopped by to see O’Farrell’s stand for themselves before the issue came to council on May 4 when staff were directed look at options for temporarily allowing farm stands. O’Farrell was also given a 45-day extension.

While she was grateful for the extension and that council agreed to look at temporarily allowing farm stands O’Farrell said she won’t back down until the bylaw is changed– not just for herself, but for everyone whose business has been impacted by the pandemic and would like the option to open a farm stand.

“To be able to keep on keeping on, that’s amazing,” O’Farrell said, “but the fight isn’t over – this bylaw needs to change.”

On May 25, Saanich council will review a staff report recommending that council direct staff to pause enforcement of the bylaw banning farm stands in the UCB until the bylaw can be amended to allow for a Temporary Use Permit process.

For now, O’Farrell’s stand at 2825 Heath Dr. remains open.


@devonscarlett
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

District of Saanich

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Colleen O’Farrell grows most of the flowers for her arrangements in her own yard – including her favourites, ranunculus. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Just Posted

Study looks at feasibility of Vancouver Island abattoir

South Island Prosperity Partnership funds study looking at local meat processing

Bike lane closed, traffic impacted by landscaping in Metchosin

Construction begins May 25, to be complete by mid-July

Royal B.C. Museum reopens in phases, some galleries remain closed to start summer

Victoria museum and archives open first galleries June 19

Saanich farm stands can stay open

Council amending bylaw to allow for temporary use permits

B.C. records no new COVID-19 deaths for the first time in weeks

Good news comes despite 11 new test-positive cases in B.C. in the past 24 hours

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Tahsis opens its gates to visitors to save local economy

Seasonal local businesses that rely on tourism hope to survive despite drop in tourist numbers

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

Fraser Valley driver featured on ‘Highway Thru Hell’ TV show dies

Monkhouse died Sunday night of a heartattack, Jamie Davis towing confirmed

Island city cancels plan for homeless camp; exploring alternative option

The plan heard strong objection from neighbouring residents and businesses

B.C. visitor centres get help with COVID-19 prevention measures

Destination B.C. gearing up for local, in-province tourism

36 soldiers test positive for COVID-19 after working in Ontario, Quebec care homes

Nearly 1,700 military members are working in long-term care homes overwhelmed by COVID-19

Most Read