THUNDER BAY – Since 1995, EcoSuperior and the City of Thunder Bay Parks Department have been collaborating on a small area of greenspace in the Intercity area. Formerly a roadbed left vacant when Central Avenue was diverted, the small plot has become a greenspace gem in the centre of the city, featuring interpretive gardens full of wildflowers, a shed with a living roof, a human sundial, and solar powered water pump. Starting today, a beautiful post and beam structure will be added, providing a shelter for participants in activities at the gardens.
“The new 16’ x 24’ shelter will provide some welcome shade and seating for our summer day camp as well as provide a facility for community workshops and seminars we have planned,” says EcoSuperior Executive Director Ellen Mortfield. “We are really excited to be able to add this building to the site with the support of the community.”
The structure is being built entirely by volunteers. A major contributor to the project is the Saunders family, and the building is being constructed in memory of Dan Saunders.
His grandson Jamie is a Program Coordinator managing a variety of stormwater projects at EcoSuperior.
“My Grandpa was a lifelong educator who always made the time to help people and share the wide range of skills he acquired in his years as a carpenter, air frame mechanic and estimator,” says Jamie. “After spending time teaching in Northern Manitoba with my Grandmother Olive while raising a young family, he settled into a career as technical director and eventually vice principal at Gron Morgan Special Vocational High School. His focus was always on the practical, hands-on side of learning and he had a knack and patience for instruction that is a rare gift.”
Dan Saunders passed away last fall, and the Saunders family approached EcoSuperior a short time later to discuss their wish to support the Central Gardens project in his name. Additional support for the project has been provided by TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, Wanson Lumber, Open Mind Interiors, Copperfin Credit Union and Unitized Manufacturing.
In addition to the gazebo, a new nature playground is being added this summer, using logs, boulders and other natural materials to create a unique play area.
The purpose of the gardens is to educate the public about native plant species. Interpretive signage is located throughout the park to help people learn to recognize regional wildflowers and to incorporate them into their landscape at home. EcoSuperior offers 4 weeks of day camp in the gardens each summer, with limited spaces still available.
Registration can be accessed at www.ecosuperior.org where information is also available on upcoming summer workshops. Volunteer efforts help maintain the gardens, and anyone interested is welcome to participate in volunteer days every Thursday from 9 am to noon starting June 15.