23-acre Botanical Garden Planned for UNBC
Prince George, B.C. – A massive project at the University of Northern B.C. is in the planning stages, a collaborative effort involving the university and the David Douglass Botanical Garden Society.
Speaking during Sunday’s annual Society plant sale President Linda Naess said the project is an enormous botanical garden which will be situated directly west of the Charles Jago Northern Sport Centre, so the large bushy area on the opposite side of the entrance road to UNBC. Naess says “it has to be a joint project because we’re a volunteer society and we can’t run it, but we’re working with the university to develop a master plan for it.”
“We’re probably going to start with a small building that would house a lot of our information, maybe a little gift shop, our master gardeners would be there for advice. Then there’s a phase-in plan for the actual garden and we have a concept map drawn.”
She says the garden will cover 23 acres and adds “between the plan, consulting with the university, the fundraising, we’re maybe three, four years away from planting. But it’s such a huge project it takes that long to plan it and do it right.”
“It’s going to be a real benefit to the university because we’ll work with their botanists and the science people here will be part of that. We think it would be a big draw for the city, and it will be one of only three boreal forest botanical gardens in North America. She believes the others are in St. John’s and Fairbanks, Alaska.
“To have a northern botanical garden is unusual, so it’s kind of exciting from that aspect.”
Naess says some of the existing wild vegetation will be left as is on the 23-acre site while other portions will be cleared. “And,” she adds “there will be a forestry piece to it as well because we’ll work with the forestry people at UNBC to grow some trees. A true botanical garden has a research component, an educational component and the gardens itself.”
She says the garden will actually consist of several pods and there will be native shrubs and trees, a wide variety of plants including lots of perennials and some annuals, “but a lot of the shrubs and the trees will be permanent structures.”
As far as the financial end of the endeavor goes Naess says it will be paid for mainly through fundraising, along with grants and contributions from the provincial and federal governments.
She estimates the cost at “around $5 million, just for what we’re looking at for phase 1, including the building and a number of the pods, pathways, things like that.” Three and perhaps four phases would eventually be incorporated into the huge project “and it may be ten years before its fully done but maybe in three or four years we’ll have something open to people to come and take a look at.”