The western portion of St. Albert Botanic Park is closed to visitors due to a $130,000 improvement. However, the rainy month of June slowed down the Memory Lane pedestrian walkway construction now expected to open after July 11.
GTS Landscaping is currently building a 190-metre-long, 1.8-metre-wide brick pathway for easier accessibly. Up until June 22 when construction started, the park’s western gardens beginning at Lilac Lane and leading to the pergola were surrounded by grassy areas, making it difficult for visitors with wheelchairs or mobility issues to access the area.
The pedestrian walkway is built using grey paving stones. For a donation, individuals or families can have personalized inscriptions written on bricks. Blank bricks are also inserted into the walkway if future visitors would like to donate and add an inscription.
Park treasurer Wendy Loar, the driving force behind Memory Lane, encouraged people to inscribe something from their history on the bricks as a way to keep special memories alive.
“It’s a great addition to the park from a memory point of view to the access point of view to the wheelchair-friendly point of view,” said volunteer Bruce Partington. He was involved in gas distribution throughout the province for 45 years prior to retiring and provided his planning expertise in designing the walkway.
Craig Topilko, founder of GTS Landscaping, moved to St. Albert when he was nine years old. Although GTS Landscaping handles residential contracts throughout the region, the Botanic Park job is unique.
“Doing something that is public, that you have access to, is different. My children are small now, but when they’re older we can bring them here and say our family has contributed something to the community,” said Topilko.
At any given time, there are three to six employees working on site as heavy equipment operators, truck drivers, and installers. So far, the project has logged over 10,000 hours of labour.
The actual physical labour takes place in three stages. The first is surveying the area, measuring how much soil to remove, digging a walkway trench, and transporting excess grassy dirt to an organic landfill.
“We have our own facility, and we process the material. After the process of mulching, it can be used as backfill,” Topilko explained.
The second phase consisted of resurveying the walkway trench.
“We had to figure out how much gravel we needed for a minimum of six inches. We needed about 150 tons of gravel. And for the bedding, we added masonry sand for a finish, a smoothness so the stones can sit at the exact same height.”
The final step is installing bricks.
“We had to work to a certain pattern. Once the blank stones are laid, Memory Lane stones are cut into the path. For safety, we built the path first and worked with Bruce as his plan intended.”
Visitors can still order inscribed paving stones for Memory Lane. Engraved bricks are $300 and paving stones are $500. Order forms are available online through the botanic park website at www.stalbertbotanicpark.com or at 780-458-7163.