The Port Alberni Labyrinth Society has fulfilled its goal of building the city’s first labyrinth.
The labyrinth was built last week behind West Coast General Hospital , and the grass seeded around the paving stones will be ready in time for the grand opening on the summer solstice June 20. PALS spokesperson Ernie Sherman said the society hopes to put in a couple of benches and do some landscaping in the coming weeks.
Labyrinths are known in other cities to be a good draw, Sherman said.
“What we’re trying to do is showcase this one. It’s going to be the first,” he added.
Labyrinths are not new. Nanaimo has several and one was recently built at the Victoria General Hospital.
Labyrinths were created approximately 4,000 years ago and today are a cross-cultural health and wellness tool. A labyrinth is a unicursal pathway with one way in, a centre and the same path out.
Unlike mazes, which are designed to trick and stump people, labyrinths promote a sense of calm, insight, connection and healing.
This ancient archetypical symbol is re-emerging throughout the world in parks, hospitals, schools, churches, progressive businesses, health centres and backyards, says Sherman, as people search for meaning and purpose in their daily lives. “Each time you go around you can get a different feeling,” Sherman said. “It’s different for every person.”
The society will lobby the hospital to create a pathway to get to the labyrinth, so people don’t have to walk across the grass. The labyrinth is flat against the ground so groundskeepers can run the lawnmower, and people in wheelchairs can use it too.
Although the work is done, the society still needs to raise nearly $15,000 to defray costs already incurred. Any money left over will go towards building more labyrinths, Sherman said. The society has a vision of developing Port Alberni into the “city of labyrinths”, much like Chemainus is known for its murals or the City of Ottawa is known for its lengthy canal skating rink and tulip festival each year.
“We need a gimmick,” Sherman said. “Why not choose an item that has been around for several thousand years?”