NORTH SAANICH – Visitors to Dominion Brook Park have a new area in the park to enjoy.
On Saturday, September 30 the Rhododendron Ravine was officially opened to the public. Alice Finall, Mayor of North Saanich and Jody Aylard, President of the Board of the Friends of Dominion Brook Park Society cut the ribbon in front of invited guests and local residents.
In her remarks, Finall recalled the early days of the community efforts to reclaim the Park from neglect as a result of cutbacks in federal funding. She thanked volunteers for their ongoing work which has been important to the maintenance and restoration of the Park since 2001. Restoring the ravine is a project of the Friends of Dominion Brook Park Society, a community-based organization that is a steward of the Park, in partnership with the District of North Saanich and the federal Centre for Plant Health.
Once known as the gem of the Park, the ravine was planted with rhododendrons in the 1950s. Some still survive, but the area had become inaccessible and overgrown. The Society has been working on the ravine restoration for several years, with progress made as funds became available. The push to complete it this year was motivated by Canada’s sesquicentennial.
“The Board wanted to open the ravine as a Canada 150 project.” said Aylard.
Grants and donations made this possible, including $10,000 each from the Greater Victoria Saving Credit Union Legacy Fund and from the Toronto Dominion Friends of the Environment Fund. North Saanich provided $50,000. Donations from Society members made up the balance. Peninsula Rock Products donated rock and gravel.
Now the stream bed is restored, the slopes are stabilized and a trail loop winds its way through the ravine. The upper brook crossing provides a viewpoint to the seasonal waterfall.
The next project for the Friends of Dominion Brook Park Society is to re-establish a collection of rhododendrons and companion plantings in the Ravine.
Dominion Brook Park is located on the grounds of the Centre for Plant Health on East Saanich Road. It was established in 1913 by the Government of Canada as a demonstration arboretum and ornamental garden, as part of the experimental farm. William Tyrrell Macoun, the Dominion Horticulturalist, planned the site and purchased plants from around the world. Today mature conifers and shrubs grow in the Park, with some of the original plantings still on display.