“A blank slate for 50 years,” Garden Valley Collegiate’s front yard to see big changes – PembinaValleyOnline.com

Planning is well underway to transform the front yard of Garden Valley Collegiate in Winkler.

Parent Advisory Council (PAC) Member Marilyn Hart says the vision for the big open space adjacent to Main Street came out of discussions between staff, students, and parents about the space, and what could be done with it.

“We’re envisioning a space that has more shade and a seating area, and the opportunity to take students outside into an area that is accessible and shaded so that learning can happen outdoors. And in addition, there are picnic tables out there, but there’s not a lot of shade, so we’re envisioning a space where students can go out and eat their lunch or enjoy that area in a comfortable way.”

PAC Member Barb Heide added that they want to create a space that’s sustainable for the staff at GVC to maintain, and a space that’s able to be utilized by the students and staff at GVC for educational purposes, recreational purposes, or events like GVC’s ‘Big Day.’

“I think it’s vital to have a welcoming space there” added Heide. “The school’s been there for 50 years and the space has just been a blank slate for all those years, right?” 

The plan for the front space also includes solar lighting for the central area, noted Hart. 

“One of the highlights of the space is the walkway, which will make that walk to Co-op, which a lot of our students really enjoy making, as well as community members, it will make that easier, especially in winter.” The design includes a walkway built from bricks, which will be kept clear through the winter. “So it makes that trail that’s usually there a little more smooth and accessible for all.”

The full vision of the project is estimated to cost over $100,000. Due to higher prices for supplies, Heide says the plan is to take a phased approach. She says the core of it, being the central gazebo area and sitting space, and the greenery will be the first phase. “And then we’ve got some sections that we can add on later with some extra seating, and extra foliage, trees, and shrubs.”

The timeline for the project would be “as soon as possible,” added Hart. “But it really depends on the momentum they can get going. We’d love to see it in place this summer, but it really depends on the community support and grant applications. But we are committed to seeing this happen, and we’re doing the best we can to get it going and we’re looking forward to community members joining us in that venture.”

Hart says they’re currently stepping into the zone of raising awareness and building their funding for now, and then they hope to apply for other grants.

“So we’re making those decisions on an ongoing basis and further decisions are coming up,” added Hart. “There are other grant deadlines coming up, so we’ll just keep looking at what we’ve raised so far. To date, we’ve had community members who have stepped up already and who’ve made donations, and we look forward to others coming on board with us so that we can apply for those big grants. But first, we need to build our community base of support and then go from there.”

Marilyn explains more about the next phase, building community support.

An aerial view of the planned design. (Supplied)An aerial view of the planned design. (Supplied)