Big expansion for community gardens in UWSA’s final budget for 2012-2013

Overall deficit reduced by $70,000

The operating budget that the UWSA approved in March gives the community garden on campus a $4,500 facelift. Kaitlyn Emslie Farrell

As summer begins, the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association (UWSA) community garden is expanding throughout campus under the leadership of new co-ordinator Elizabeth Shearer and several dedicated volunteers.

“We started months ago in developing approvals and getting our project off the ground,” said Shearer, a third-year environmental studies student at the University of Winnipeg. “I saw the need for the community gardens to expand and grow, so it evolved into more than I originally thought.”

As the U of W starts construction on the new Field House, Health and Wellness Complex on Spence Street, it will affect the current community garden plot next to the Duckworth Centre.

As a result, 10 garden plots will be moving and expanded to several new areas, including around the Bike Lab, Sparling Hall and near McFeetor’s Hall at Langside Avenue.

These changes all fit under the recently approved UWSA operating budget, which gives the community garden a $4,500 facelift within a fiscally restrained package.

“She (Shearer) has a really exciting vision for how this will allow us to expand the community garden programming and make sure that it has an appropriate new space,” outgoing vice-president internal Katie Haig-Anderson said in March.

After a long process of consultation and amendment, the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association (UWSA) presented its final 2012-2013 budget at the organization’s annual general meeting (AGM), held in March.

The over $3 million budget saw Haig-Anderson reduce the overall deficit of the organization by approximately $70,000, with savings coming from changes to Soma Café and various other forms of financial tweaking.

“It was really a team effort. We looked at ways to reduce the deficit in a lot of departments in the UWSA while trying to minimize the effect we had on the services we provide,” she said, adding that the organization budgeted for a slight increase in student fees, at three per cent, which comprises the organization’s largest source of revenue.

Additionally, the UWSA found savings by closing Soma Café over the summer, which will reduce the overall budget for café staff wages from $80,000 last year to just over $55,000 this coming year.

Due to the advice of its auditor, the organization is for the first time accounting for unclaimed book sales from Petrified Sole, which amounts to $20,000 in revenue for the organization.

As part of a new budget process, the UWSA went through several stages of consultation, created a draft budget and approved a final budget before presenting it at the AGM for information purposes only.

The previous process allowed for budget amendments at the AGM.

“The hope of changing the process was that it would allow for participatory budget making,” said Haig-Anderson, adding that student participation helped shape the budget considerably this year.

Haig-Anderson sees the changes to the community garden project, proposed by Shearer over multiple budget meetings, as an example of that participatory goal.

“That was a really exciting development in this budget and a great example of how students can get involved and see their ideas realized,” she said.

The most significant change between the draft budget released in late February and the final budget presented in March was the decision to keep publishing Stylus magazine on a bimonthly basis.

Initially, Haig-Anderson estimated that scaling back the magazine’s publishing schedule to a quarterly would save the UWSA $10,000 and would not substantially affect the magazine.

However, students expressed support for a regularly published Stylus, which also contains the CKUW radio schedule, and the budget was changed to accommodate student support.

Published in Volume 66, Number 27 of The Uniter (May 30, 2012)

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