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David Douglas Botanical Garden Society wants to create $5.9M garden in Prince George

Prince George would be home to most northerly botanical garden in Canada

The David Douglas Botanical Garden Society is planning a $5.9-million expansion.

Once completed the proposed 23-acre garden at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) would not only be the most northerly botanical garden in Canada, but the only inland botanical garden in the Canadian Cordillera (mountain ranges).

“We have been working on this for the last few years. It’s been the vision, the mission and the goal of the society since we were incorporated in 1991,” said Linda Naess, the society’s president, during a presentation to city council last night (Feb.3).

“It’s a huge undertaking and we are slowly working our way through it.”

The project consists of five phases, starting with the current demonstration gardens at UNBC, which were built in 2002 and extensive fundraising between 2005 and 2006 allowed for the design and construction of many featured items in that garden like the bridge, waterfall and Rotary Pavillion.

More than $1.1 million in funds and in-kind donations have already been contributed.

The second phase, however, is the beginning of the expansion.

Phase two work would include a $ 2.87-million development of 10 acres of the 23-acre site, located west of the Charles Jago Northern Sports Centre.

The society plans to start phase two between 2020 and 2022, with phase three and four each taking place two years later when funding becomes available.

The concept design of the next three phases includes several theme gardens, research plots, mature indigenous forest and wetland display.

The society says possible features that could be integrated in the theme gardens to add interest and visitor interaction include sculptures, gazebos, lookout station, interpretive signage, maze, treehouse, green wall and ornamental lighting.

The plans also include a First Nations garden which could have features like a medicinal garden, smudging pavilion, artwork, open fire pit, natural water feature, interpretative signage and quiet areas to reflect.

“We believe the David Douglas Botanical Garden will inspire visitors and enhance the quality of life in our community by nurturing and showing the beauty of our province and the joy of gardening and become a locally treasured source of pride,” said expansion project committee member Jay Lazzarin during the presentation.

Future phases three and four would see the development of marsh wetlands and pond, selective clearing in the indigenous forest for shade-tolerant plants, a research garden expansion and visitor’s centre expansion to include a banquet room, solarium and cafe.

The funding for this project will be driven through grants, in-kind donations and individual and corporate donor campaigns and UNBC has already donated the 23-acre site to the society.

“We have just begun [fundraising] part of it is we needed the building plan which we have just about finished deciding on and we have a fundraising committee that will take that information,” said Naess.

“We are in partnership with UNBC for applying to donors and grants and we are just in the beginning process of that.”

Naess added that the society is optimistic it will meet the deadlines set out it the project but is also prepared to make them longer if needed.

“If there’s any group that can do it — it’s you guys,” added Mayor Lyn Hall.