The Communion of Saints past and present was in full swing at the September 17 Grand Opening of Creekside Commons, a new garden area St. Clement’s parishioners have created for the benefit of the neighbourhood they serve.
Many St. Clement’s saints of yore are named on the new Tree of Life mural that overlooks the Commons; now people in the wider community are invited to memorialize their own loved ones by having a name added to the leaves that entwine what was once a dull cinderblock wall.
And the present-day saints of the church were busy welcoming neighbours, local tradesfolk, and North Vancouver District Council representatives into the new garden space with sweets and savouries, and encouraging them to drop in anytime for a peaceful respite or to bring a friend for coffee and a chat.
Creation of the Commons - formerly a bramble-choked patch, complete with crumbling concrete wall and large rotting stump - was an ambitious project, but one that was a perfect fit for the pandemic years when gathering together indoors was often an impossibility. Focussing on a beautiful vision outside and working together in nature to make it happen allowed the church to build some positive momentum at a time when so much else had to be put on the back burner or shut down all together. The Commons was designed to be accessible to those in strollers and wheelchairs, and two raised community garden beds will offer opportunities for gardeners with mobility challenges.
The $15,000 seed money from the parish was matched by a grant from the Anglican Foundation of Canada. As noted by the Rev. Helen Dunn in her opening address, the project benefited from consultation along the way from First Nations elders, who offered wisdom on the addition of an Indigenous Healing Garden. The Rev. Dunn made grateful mention of many people from within and without the congregation who offered strong arms, wise counsel, creative ideas and expertise in architecture, landscaping and carpentry. The project was not without its hiccoughs, but the willingness of all to persevere and overcome meant there was much to celebrate at Sunday’s event.
A newly built arbour leads into the Commons; a ribbon strung across it for the grand opening was cut to great applause by two of the parish youth, accompanied by the garden’s chief visionaries, People’s Warden Sandra Martin and Hon. Ass’t Deacon, the Rev. Elizabeth Mathers. The Creekside Commons sign, designed by recent university grad Carina Yong, was unveiled just that morning and was a happy surprise for the parishioners seeing it for the first time.
With the opening of Creekside Commons on the north side of the church, there is now the opportunity to circumnavigate the whole building, enjoying not just the seating areas and espalier apple trees in the Commons, but, on the east of the property, the salmon-bearing Coleman Creek, a small, natural labyrinth, and the wooded area that was made a certified wildlife habitat thanks to the efforts of Salal + Cedar in concert with local Girl Guides and volunteers. The south side of the building became home to a number of community garden boxes some time ago, and a bird and butterfly wildflower garden brightens the patch of lawn outside the office window. The front of the church faces west, with the giant iron anchor, symbol of St. Clement, standing vigil in front of the greenery and blooms of the memorial garden. St. Clement’s would like to thank the Anglican Foundation of Canada for its support, as well as all who contributed their time, talent and treasure to the creation of Creekside Commons.
Photos Wayne Chose (except where noted)