St. Thomas Elevated Park to add 'first linear arboretum in Canada' thanks to generous donation
ST. THOMAS, ONT. -- St. Thomas' Elevated Park is going to finally get its finishing touches thanks to the estate of the late Donna Evans Bushell.
A donation of $100,000 will go towards a theme which the board of On Track St. Thomas calls 'bigger, brighter and greener.'
They'll implement electricity, which will allow for pathway lighting and a security system. They'll also put grass on the bridge, and will line the trails west of the park with trees - and there's more.
"As far as we know, there is no linear arboretum in Canada," says Serge Lavoie, president of On Track St. Thomas.
"It will be 90 feet wide, 3.5 kilometres long and will have ultimately hundreds of trees. They will all be labelled, inventoried and little story about each one. We call it a tree museum."
But it is not just the park which will benefit from Wednesday's announcement.
The St. Thomas Community Foundation was given a $100,000 endowment for local tree planting, and $115,000 will be used for a partnership with the St. Thomas-Elgin Public Art Centre (STEPAC).
That project will see STEPAC partner with the Kettle Creek Conservation Authority and Catfish Creek Conservation Authority to bring artwork outdoors.
"It's called Art, Trails and Trees," says Laura Woermke, executive director of STEPAC.
"We will use pieces from our permanent collection to highlight them with high-quality signs at Springwater Forest, Dalewood Conservation Authority and at the Elevated Park."
Woermke says they will walk the trails in those areas and choose the appropriate artwork from among the 2,000 pieces in their permanent collection.
"Like Clark McDougall loved Yarmouth Centre and the Dan Patterson area, so that is a perfect fit for this type of project."
Andrew Gunn and Maddie King have been consulting on the $2.5-million estate and dividing the funds to projects that they feel will check all the boxes in fulfilling Donna Evans Bushell's legacy.
The pair believe Bushell would want to encourage active living.
"Donna, her real focus was planting trees, and we wanted to encourage people to use the areas where trees are planted," says Gunn.
"We want to market the whole community as art, culture and environmental sustainability and I think we checked all the boxes. I believe she'd be very happy with the outcome."
There will be more donations announced Thursday when Gunn and King reveal hundreds of thousands of dollars which will benefit downtown St. Thomas.
They will include an overhaul of a vacant lot next to the St. Thomas Public Library, and a sizable donation to the St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation.