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Botanical Garden Society looks at major improvements

Master Plan
From left: Harry Hill, Paddy Wales and David Watkins of the Botanical Garden Society with Eileen Finn and Leila Zeppelin from Lees + Associates, and Garden Society member Jean Bennett discussing ideas for the 15-year master plan at the Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden.

The Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden Society wrapped up a two-day charrette last weekend, where members of the society met with landscape and architecture experts from Lees + Associates to discuss ideas for a 15-year master plan at the garden.

“We want to make it easier for visitors to find their way around, and have them naturally know what’s interesting to go to by the circulation of the pathways,” Botanical Garden Society president Paddy Wales said. “[We want] little hubs of information so the landscape isn’t littered with signs but so there are different layers of information for people who want only the name of a plant to people who want to know the background and more interesting ecology of places, and so on.”

Wales was elected president at the Annual General Meeting on Sept. 29.

Certain areas of interest have come up for potential landscaping work, such as the ravine at the back of the garden.

“The ravine is incredibly beautiful but it’s a wildlife corridor and we think of it as a reserve of nature,” Wales said. “There are native species that are there because it hasn’t been used much. We don’t want to damage that, but we also want people to experience it in ways that don’t damage it. All of these questions are still up in the air, and the next months will settle a lot of them.”

Eileen Finn, a landscape designer with Lees + Associates, said that one of their underlying goals with this project is to make the garden more accessible.

“Speaking generally, we’re looking at circulation, so how do people get around the site?” Finn said. “How do the pathways work? How do trucks or little service vehicles get through? How does the site work, functionally? How do visitors encounter the site, what does the entranceway look like, what’s the whole experience of arrival when you’re coming up Mason Road? How do you know that you’ve arrived?”

After the ideas from the charrette have had time to settle, they will be presented to stakeholders at a meeting in December.

“At that point things will open up a bit more to other stakeholders within the garden and we’ll really be getting a lot of feedback on the strategies that we’ve come up with,” Finn said.

The Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden is located at 5941 Mason Road in West Sechelt. Find them online at

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