Business as usual at Cominco Gardens

Budget secured for this year at least; staff prepare Gardens for summer

Head gardener Dan and assistant Patricia plant dahlias last Friday

Head gardener Dan and assistant Patricia plant dahlias last Friday

Although the potential for budget changes at Cominco Gardens has been hotly discussed on the letters page of this newspaper and throughout the community, nothing has changed. It’s business as usual for this year.

“The budget for this year is approved and done,” said Mayor Don McCormick.

However, the future of the Gardens is still being looked at as part of an overall City assets review. All assets are under review, the Mayor says, but no decisions have been made.

“I think it’s a timing issue,” he said of the burst of concern from residents. “Clearly as part of the budget process, we have been looking at assets. But no decision has been made and it doesn’t impact this year.”

“I’m very grateful to City Council for providing the Gardens with a full budget for this year. I am aware of the economic challenges the city is facing and I appreciate Council recognizing how important the Gardens are to the community” said Gardens’ Manager, Dan Matheson. However Matheson also recognizes that the future is uncertain. “2017 is the 90th Anniversary of Cominco Gardens. I know that all of us hope that this natural gem will be here long past the anniversary for future generations to enjoy, but time and budget constraints will tell.”

So, Matheson and his team are preparing the Gardens for another season.

Dahlias were being put in the ground last Friday and the warm weather last week has tulips and daffodils in full bloom. Matheson urges Kimberley residents to come up and have a look.

“The tulips and daffodils are always the first plants out,” he said. “But it’s been such an unseasonably warm Spring that they are several weeks ahead of schedule. I encourage everyone to come up and check out how pretty they are before they are done. If nothing else, come on up, take in some Spring sunshine , put down the technology that permeates your life and rest your eyes.”

With an eye to bringing in a little more income, the plan is to switch out a few of the flower beds to vegetable beds and sell them, as well as plants, and other assorted items crafted from garden materials, at both the Cranbrook and Kimberley Farmers’ Markets this summer.

“It’s a great opportunity to raise public awareness about who we are” Matheson said. “We are hoping to really engage with the public and get people coming out to visit us – both at the markets and also up here at the Gardens.”

Everything being sold at the markets will also be available for purchase at Cominco Gardens during non-market days.

Matheson said staff are exploring fresh ideas on how to increase the Gardens’ profile in the East Kootenay. One idea that could potentially have a far greater reach than just the East Kootenay is that a volunteer is working on creating a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Another new initiative is that Matheson and his staff are looking at implementing an educational component to the garden beds to teach people about plants, gardening techniques and how gardeners can coexist with wildlife.

“What better place to learn about gardening, nature and coexisting with deer, squirrels and birds than right here?” said Matheson.

Cominco Gardens are open seven days a week. Admission is by donation.