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A Common vision for Cobble Hill
When the folks in Cobble Hill are through with it, their village's old highway works yard will be a park space with seniors' housing and commercial boutiques.
But first thing's first.
Director Gerry Giles and a team of volunteers spent Monday morning planting apple, pear and plum trees plus blueberry and gogi berry bushes at the future home of the Cobble Hill Commons.
"People will be able to come along in a few years, and pick and eat the fruit," she said of the community's new edible garden. "And we'll also be able to hopefully provide some fruit for the food bank."
Giles made it her mission to turn the province-owned works yard into a public park about a decade ago. Six years and about $300 later, the property was turned over to the Cowichan Valley Regional District.
"That was in 2009, and so from 2009 on, we've been consulting with the community to see what they feel would blend in with what we have, and optimize the property," Giles said.
"What the community wanted to see was a different type of park space. They want a green area so people can come place bocce ball, or lawn bowling, or put up a badminton net. A general play area."
Eventually, there'll also be washroom facilities, and in the long-term, a set of six to eight small shops dug into the property's small slope.
And above the shops will be affordable housing for seniors.
"When we did a questionnaire (about the park) with the community, there were a variety of responses to the questions we asked, but one that was consistent was the desire to have some kind of seniors' housing in this location, so that came to the top of everyone's preference," Giles explained.
And the CVRD has just received a $20,000 provincial grant to plan for the unique seniors' housing project.
"We just keep our eyes open all the time for funding opportunities — and then we go after them quite aggressively," Giles said.
She also lauded the healthy group of local volunteers who push community projects forward.
Volunteers such as Susan Paul, from Evergreen Independent School, who planted more than a thousand sprouted daffodil bulbs after seeing her fellow community members in action on Monday morning.
"I drove by and saw all this activity," she said as she spaded bulbs into the freshly-turned earth. "There's probably going to be at least 1,000 daffodils, maybe 2,000, around all these fruit trees.
"Give them about two and a half weeks, and they'll just take off."
"That's not unique," Giles said of Paul's planting. "That's the norm here, so we're really fortunate in our community."