GREENWICH - Forget the hillside full of colourful flowers next year, says Greenwich farmer Doug Hennigar.
The province wants Hennigar’s Farm Market to push its u-pick flower garden back by about four feet after it deemed it was obstructing traffic.
The notice came two years after the province’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal paved the shoulder next to the bed. Hennigar understood, at that time, that his planting was in compliance.
“This takes a lot of energy,” he said. “I’m tired out at the end of the day and I’m gonna lose. There’s been no accidents associated with the flower hill. If there had been, I’d move it in a heart beat.”
Province concerned with safety
Pam Menchenton, the department spokesperson, says the province’s urgent concern is for the safety of road users.
“The province has a right of way that ensures vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists have enough room to safely share the road. The issue with the flower bed is that it covers too much of the right of way – almost the entire shoulder of the road - and forces pedestrians and cyclists, or drivers attempting to provide room for pedestrians and cyclists, to veer into the path of fast moving traffic. The department has a responsibility to make the road safe for all.”
There is a paved sidewalk on the opposite side of the street.
Ten days to move garden
Hennigar sighs as he says he can’t understand the issue coming up again. He received a letter from Kings area manager Glen Strang on June 20, giving him 10 days to move the edge of the bed back.
Area staff have met and communicated with the business owner many times over the years to discuss and try to resolve the issue, Menchenton said.
“As a last resort, the department will remove the section of the bed that encroaches on the road themselves, but it is sincerely hoped that a resolution can be reached before that needs to take place,” she said.
She called Hennigar’s Farm Market a long-standing, popular destination for many Nova Scotia families and said it is a great benefit to the community.
“Area staff certainly recognize that and have been working with the business owner through the years to address the serious safety issue created by having a flowerbed so close to a very busy stretch of road.”
Province not supporting agritourism: Hennigar
Hennigar, who is the second generation in his family to own the business, says the province has a funny way of supporting the agritourism the you-pick flower hill represents.
Strang’s letter says the Public Highways Act gives him the authority to remove the offending flowers, dispose of all of the material and bill Hennigar for the costs. For his part, Hennigar maintains that the earth is prime topsoil and can’t be removed.
He calls the move indicative of a lack of support for farming and says this kind of regulation “really sucks the energy out of the business.”
Frequent cyclist Jennifer Jones of We’re Outside Outdoor Outfitters in Wolfville doesn’t understand the problem with the shoulder because it is paved by the flowerbed, where nearby the shoulder is composed of loose gravel.
A safety hazard at that stretch of the highway, she said, never even crossed her mind.
Reader’s Digest chose the Greenwich market as Canada’s best Farmer’s Stand in 2008. It has been in operation since 1948.