The new Veterans memorial gardens in Grande Prairie could be ready for visitors as early as next July. That’s when Project lead Renee Charbonneau expects to have the first 75 of 320 soldier information plaques in place.
“We’ve done so much work behind the scenes for the last year. We have 75 completed stories now thanks to the Canadian Fallen Heros Program. We have the photos, the stories, the biographies… 75 of our regional soldiers’ stories will start appearing in those gardens… end of July.”
The idea for the gardens next to ANAVETS hall were first announced in December 2016. The whole project is expected to be installed in three phases. Phase one saw the construction of an Afganistan War monument which was unveiled in September 2017.
The second would see the addition of a programs building at the edge of the gardens which would house war artifacts used by people in the region. The third would be the planting phase which Charbonneau hopes to start in 2020.
The total cost for the gardens currently sits at $350,000.Through fundraising and grants, Charbonneau says the final two phases are fully funded. When all is said and done, she wants the gardens to be used as a teaching tool.
“I want to see people educated as to the challenges of our veterans, of our killed in action soldiers… It’s important that those gardens represent them fully so that when children go through those gardens on a field trip they come away feeling a whole lot different then when they went in there.”
If the grants come through and all goes well, Charbonneau hopes to have the gardens fully finished by 2022 or 2023.