A couple who moved to Enfield, N.S., from Switzerland four years ago say they don't expect anything in return for spending $400,000 of their own money to create a lush and serene public park in their rural community.
The new St. Bernard's Park on Highway 2 features 100 different species of flowers, 25 different kinds of trees and 20 different types of grass on what was once an underutilized and poorly maintained muddy area between St. Bernard's Catholic Church and the Enfield volunteer fire department.
Locals can go to the park to relax, play chess or enjoy a picnic among the beauty of 10,000 tulips, a Japanese garden and bamboo trees while the finishing touches are being put on a 400-square-foot, red-spruce, custom-designed gazebo this week.
"I think it was something that [my wife] had on her heart for a long time anyway, to do something for the community, and it was Enfield," said Hervé Burri, who, along with his wife Lorraine, paid for the project.
"I don't want to say that's the only way to do it but it was a good way to do it, that we pay for it."
Labour of love
The retired couple — Lorraine owned a pharmaceuticals company while Hervé was an architect — have also agreed to pay to maintain the park for the next 20 years. The church owns the property, which is nearly a hectare.
Hervé said he wants visitors to feel peacefulness and serenity when they sit on the benches and just rest.
"Look around and look at the flowers, have a nice time," he said in an interview Thursday at the park.
Metal benches painted in bright yellow, green, red and white and wheelchair accessible picnic tables line the park. A large chess board will be designed on the stone walkway outside the gazebo.
Lorraine, who headed the project, expects to have 15,000 tulips and daffodils growing in the park by next year. She also plans to add a metal compass rose featuring 80 different cities.
"We get a lot of joy," she said.
"It hasn't been without struggles and challenges but it really makes us feel good. We're really pleased that we've been able to accomplish this and it's been a great project."
The couple approached the Municipality of East Hants and the church a year ago to discuss their idea for the park.
Enfield councillor Cecil Dixon said it's "overly amazing" what the property has become.
"It's such a nice thing and it's hard to believe the investment, the quality of the trees," said Dixon, who compared the quality of the park to the Halifax Public Gardens.
"To me it's amazing that someone would take the time to develop it and put the money into it. I mean it's at no cost to the church or to the taxpayers at all."
Community chips in
The park has been a real community effort. Four local landscaping companies, who are normally competitors, worked together on it.
The municipality issued the necessary permits and is assisting with supplying water, while the fire department has installed an outdoor faucet for watering the grounds.
Two workers from Corridor Community Options for Adults, a centre that provides programs and vocational training for people living with intellectual disabilities, water the park each morning.
Dozens of other contractors and businesses have also provided goods and services.
All the trees, flowers, shrubs and plants — except for the bamboo, which came from Vancouver — are from Nova Scotia.
Delena Wood visited the park for the first time Thursday. She described it as gorgeous.
"I think they'll get a lot of attraction here with people that are from the community, it's very nice," Wood said.
Anthony Mancini, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Halifax and Yarmouth, will dedicate the park Sunday morning.