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Community support and solid planning brought Bowen’s Garden Gateway to life

Holly Graff

By now, most of you have seen the new additions to the Cove in the form of the USSC building and the adjoining Garden Gateway.

The Garden Gateway sprung up seemingly overnight in July, but the groundwork for this community amenity was laid in the Fall of 2014, when the Bowen Island Community Foundation chose the Garden Gateway Initiative to receive a $15,000 Community Impact Grant. This project was selected because it was so closely aligned with the Foundation’s priorities of civic pride, community gathering places and environment.

Holly Graff submitted the proposal for the Garden Gateway project, which was inspired by the widening of the walkway between the ferry waiting area and the cenotaph, and also by the Bowen Island Community Foundation’s “Vital Conversations” workshop.

During the workshop, the idea of civic pride came up in the context of beautifying the Cove. Graff thought this would be a perfect idea to submit as a grant proposal. The overall vision was for this area to be a more welcoming space that would encourage vibrant interaction among residents and visitors alike.

The project needed a charity sponsor in the appeal for funding to the Bowen Island Community Foundation, and Bowen Heritage came on board with their support. With no expense to the Bowen taxpayer, the project aimed to beautify the entrance to the Cove and create a community gathering place.

Graff then set to work with architect James Tuer and garden designer Wynn Nielsen to craft a plan. She also started a conversation with municipal CAO Kathy Lalonde about how to implement a project on municipal land.

After appearing before council a number of times and working through municipal pathways, Graff solicited additional donations from Bowen Island Properties and the International Buddhist Society, along with in-kind contributions from Bowenshire Stonework & Landscaping.

The USSC incorporated into their new adjacent building, at no charge, features that will help irrigate the garden during the first few years of growth and during any dry summer months to come.

This project earned Graff a 2015 Community Service Award from the BC Society of Landscape Architects in recognition of her work seeing this public amenity to fruition.

The last section of planting will occur at the end of September, but already the impact on the Cove has been immense. The vision is that this will be an introduction to a larger network of natural and tended environments on Bowen. As it now stands, in any direction you go from the Cenotaph, there is a plethora of our island’s natural beauty on display.

We believe that once completed, the Snug Cove Garden Gateway will better reflect residents’ pride in Bowen’s natural beauty and history – something we can all support.

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