Alberni Valley Girl Guide Jordyn Goovaerts stood patiently by the tree she chose to plant at Canal Beach on Saturday, the root ball encased in a black plastic plant pot, the fir gently fluttering in the slight breeze coming off the water of Alberni Inlet.
The tree has meaning for Goovaerts, a third-year member of the South Port Guides: “I wanted to plant a fir tree because we have fir trees at home and there is one that is as old as me,” she said.
Now, she will be able to go to Canal Beach and see a tree that she planted with her own hands.
On Saturday, girls from the Sparks, Brownies, Guides and Pathfinders in Port Alberni joined their leaders and city officials to plant trees that had been donated by members of the community. Earlier in the week city parks and recreation staff had prepared soil and compost in two spots bordering the grassy area at Canal Beach, and planted a number of trees that were too large for young hands to handle, city horticulture and parks operation supervisor Jacob Colyn said.
“All the trees the girls planted today were donated by the community,” he said. In all a walnut tree, some yellow cedar, Japanese maple, lilacs, a Garry oak, Pacific dogwood, Douglas fir and red cedar were planted.
Artist Alicia La Rue invited the girls and leaders to place their handprints on a mural La Rue is painting on the retaining wall at Canal Beach. City councillors Denis Sauve and Ron Paulson were on hand to help the girls plant.
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The Mt. Cokely Brownies earned a $2,000 tree-planting grant from the TD Bank’s Friends of the Environment Foundation through Girl Guides of Canada. Leader Alyson Schmitz approached Port Alberni City Council about using the grant to plant trees at Canal Beach.
Ron Lepine Financial will be donating a rock and plaque for the shrub area commemorating the Guides’ tree planting efforts.
“It’s awesome,” said Colyn. “It shows the community is really adopting this as a community space. All crew members are really excited that we’re getting so much support from the community for this project.”
A number of shade trees paid for by the TD grant will be planted in the second area, closer to the parking lot. Wet weather precluded city staff from planting the large trees before the guides were on site, Colyn explained.
Now that there are trees planted in the green space, Colyn said it will allow parks and rec to install an automated irrigation system, which will cost the same as the manpower it has taken to manually water the park. Crew members already monitor the beach for debris and perform other maintenance duties at the beach.
There are other changes coming to Canal Beach this summer, he said, such as a beach volleyball pit. Eventually, Colyn would like to see a walkway built and benches installed near the shade trees.