Photo Submitted This artist’s rendering shows the turtle area of ​​a playground currently under construction in the International Peace Garden. The playground is designed after animals of historical importance for the region.

DUNSEITH – A major facelift is being carried out in the International Peace Garden. The improvements were made possible by dollars made available on both sides of the US-Canada border.

“It comes to $ 12 million, state and provincial funds.” said Tim Chapman, CEO of International Peace Garden.

Manitoba’s contribution to the Peace Garden was $ 7.5 million, which is about $ 6 million. The remainder of the funding will come from the United States, including $ 1 million left over from a previous project to demolish the famous garden’s crumbling towers.

“Two key projects that will open next year, our 90th anniversary, are our winter garden extension and a children’s playground”, said Chapmann.

The existing conservatory houses a collection of succulents from around the world. The unique collection was donated to the Peace Garden by Don Vitko von Minot. While the Peace Garden built a greenhouse to display the plants, the collection’s popularity has meant that visitors need more space to browse the collection. There’s another reason, said Chapman.

“Our winter garden is now not as energy efficient as you would like it to be. We will be more efficient in the entire new building and have more space for plants and visitors. “ said Chapmann. “Some of it will even offer space for encounters where people can immerse themselves in the collection. That’s pretty exciting and makes us even more of a 12-month draw, not just in the warm season. “

Although the Peace Garden has play areas for children, these are generally too far from the more popular areas of the garden to be used regularly. The new children’s playground is located much cheaper. Construction of the $ 1 million project is well underway.

“We create a multi-generational, comprehensive family experience.” said Chapmann. “The play area is close to the winter garden, souvenir shop and cafe so families can really enjoy this part of the garden a lot more. It is also themed around the animals of the region such as turtles, wolves, falcons and eagles. We will work with indigenous peoples to find out what these animals traditionally meant to these cultures. “

Les Thomas, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and the first indigenous person to be elected to the board of the International Peace Garden, says recognizing the area’s indigenous peoples is a significant step in the development of the Peace Garden.

“Leaders from North Dakota and Manitoba recognized the importance of the indigenous people and also that the land, even before the Peace Garden, belonged to the indigenous peoples on both sides of the border. That was good,” remarked Thomas.

Two years ago there was a ceremony in the Peace Garden where the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and other First Nations hoisted their flags. Further interpretive representations regarding indigenous peoples are likely to be included in the garden’s master plan for development.

Another big aspect of the improvements at Peace Garden is the apartment buildings, many of which were decades old and in a deteriorating condition. The project includes the renovation of seven dated maisonette cabins and the addition of five new seasonal staff cabins. Previously, Chapman said, the lack of living space often hindered finding seasonal help at the Peace Garden.

“In this way we can recruit the right staff every summer and attract people who do not have to be accessible by car.” explained Chapman. “Our goal in the off-season is to rent these out to snowshoe hikers, hikers and skiers when they are not occupied by the staff. It will give more people the opportunity to stay here and enjoy our 2,400 acres. They really didn’t have that in the past. “

Another construction project is a new staff building that will accommodate 20 summer employees. It will have lockers, a kitchen, a meeting room and additional storage space.

Other projects that are either underway or about to be planned are less visible, generally postponed maintenance that has been postponed too long. All together, said Chapman, the improvements will be “Improvement of the overall statement of the peace garden.”

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