HUMBOLDT — The first shovel has hit the ground at the Humboldt Urban Garden Sanctuary, located on the south east side of the Humboldt District Hospital, with the finish date slated for September.
The project started over three years ago when Landscape Alberta, Landscape Saskatchewan and Communities in Bloom with support from Scotts Canada approached the city about building a garden to honour the families and victims of the 2018 Broncos tragedy.
Michael Behiel, Humboldt’s mayor, said that the whole goal of the project is that it’s open for everybody to visit.
“It’s not just to provide the memorial to the Broncos, but to create a community-wide ongoing place of solace and respite for those who need it – magnificently situated here at the hospital where so many people are going through tragic times and need a place to sit back and have quiet reflection,” Behiel said.
The site will feature a sunset garden planted in the form of angel wings, memorializing those lost; and a sunrise garden representing a new beginning.
Structure-wise, the landscape will have a series of outdoor brick patios with benches for community members to sit at – connected to one another through walkways.
Carol Brons, representative of the 2017-18 Humboldt Broncos families, called the location of the garden perfect.
“It will give staff, patients, families and the public a place of beauty and quiet. It’s important to have such an area as this garden by the hospital so anyone can access it and have some time to be in nature,” she said.
“Our world needs healing, whether from tragedy, illness or stress and I hope this healing garden will provide a place for people to find peace and harmony with nature so they can heal physically, mentally and emotionally.”
Local artist Murray Cook was commissioned to create a custom 14-foot-high sculpture for the garden. Other pieces Cook has created were the Armillary Memorial in front of City Hall, and the whale tail east of the city.
The urban garden piece will be made out of stainless and mild steel, featuring three metallic monarch butterflies around foliage. Acrylic paint will be used to add colour.
The piece is expected to take Cook two months to complete.
“We decided to use a monarch butterfly because of their history from coming all the way from Mexico all the way to Humboldt, or Saskatchewan I should say,” Cook said.
“It takes four generations of monarchs to get here and one generation to get back to Mexico for the next year. It’s quite a challenge, quite a journey, so this garden kind of represents a journey for a lot of different people.”
Partners of the project include the City of Humboldt, Barkman, Palazzo Landscape Design, Brandt, Lakeshore Tree Farms, Great North Hardscape, Burnco Landscape Centre, Expocrete, Manderley, Techno-Block, Landscape Alberta, Landscape Saskatchewan, Dutch Growers, Green Cities Foundation, Communities in Bloom, in-lite, Cornell Design and Landscaping, Scotts Canada, Snap Edge Paver Restraint and Techniseal.
Care and upkeep of the garden will be the responsibility of the Humboldt District Hospital, with the city offering support as needed.
Behiel thanked the sponsors of the garden not just for giving recognition for the Broncos, but also “recognizing the vision it will benefit the community on a long-term basis.”
“[The city] is a silent partner, is the best way of putting it,” Behiel said. “We have had collaborative efforts and agreements with it and helped to spearhead some of the original planning and so forth, but at this point we’re just here as guidance and provide support as we can.”