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Japanese garden proposed in Castlegar

Castlegar’s Communities in Bloom and the Embetsu exchange committee are proposing to build a Japanese garden on municipally-owned land behind the RCMP station downtown.

Darlene Kalawasky with Communities in Bloom pitched the project to city council this week with the help of Vancouver-based landscape architects Hiro Okusa and Kumpei Wakino, with whom they have been working on the concept for the past seven months.

“We do hope it will be approved by council and we can go forward with further planning,” Kalawsky said. “We wanted to create an area that will be a signature for Castlegar, incorporating the new city plan for the downtown core, including cultural amenities and walkability.

“This, we feel, will be a great fit for downtown. It’s also another attraction for people visiting.”

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Kalawsky said while Communities in Bloom is leading the charge, the project will be a partnership with the City of Castlegar and Embetsu committee.

Castlegar and Embetsu have been sister cities since the 1989, and thanks to a Japanese benefactor, Mitsuo Shikano, many student exchanges have taken place since 1998.

Kalawasky said the proposal will include “ancient Japanese architecture with a modern twist.”

Okusa has worked on other Japanese gardens in Nelson and New Denver, but this one will be different from the others.

“It’s a well being area where that people can come and reflect and rest but it’s also a place the Embetsu group can use for cultural activities,” Kalawsky said. “We feel it’s an important part of our community. That’s why we wanted to pursue this.

“Communities in Bloom has always been an incubator for growing great places and building community relationships.”

If council gives the go ahead, Kalawsky says they hope to start work within a year. They expect it will take two years to complete.

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