By Haley Grinder
A “place of peace” has been immortalized as the Columbia House Healing Garden in Invermere after years of hard work and dedication. The garden, first brought to light three years ago, has changed the way of life for both the residents at the facility and the community as a whole.
The Columbia House is a 35-bed long-term care facility in Invermere, administered by Interior Health, that provides “care for disabled residents, the frail elderly, and for seniors unable to look after themselves.”
“Part of it is to have residents in touch with what’s going on,” says John Newton, president of the Columbia House Enhancement Society and integral part of the project’s success. He believes it is important to embrace oneself with nature, especially when one might not be the pinnacle of health.
The community park, fondly referred to as COHO by the community, is complemented by a variety of annual and perennial flowers, scenic landscaping, and a tranquil waterfall. It serves to bridge the gap between residents and the community, allowing for everyone to enjoy a place of peace right within the center of town– convenient for those who may not have the luxury of exploring the beach or going on a hike. This is especially necessary during the busy summer months when tourists monopolize much of the beaches within walking distance.
The reality for many long-term care residents is spending year-round inside their facility. With the COVID-19 pandemic and the isolation regulations in place, this meant that many had limited interaction with the outside world. This community garden helped expand their world, as well as connect them with the external world.
The garden provides pathways lined with rails, including wheelchair access, complemented by brightly coloured foliage, and a massive, yet serene pergola put in place by Rona and Collective Carpentry. The landscaping is maintained weekly and invites those interested in joining their gardening efforts.
The initial goal to complete the project was $600,000, however, after nearly $750,000 dollars raised fundraising, the garden is finally emerging completion. The pavilion, made possible by Home Hardware, is still in the works. Once that’s complete, the long-term care residents and community alike can embrace live music that will hopefully become a Thursday tradition.
The park is open dawn until dusk, every day, with plenty of benches and scenery for the public to enjoy. To learn more, visit https://cohogarden.org/.