Assiniboine Park gets $2.5M boost to diversity gardens development

Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park has been given another big boost towards the creation of Canada's Diversity Gardens.
Canada's Diversity Gardens, as seen in this artist rendering, is the final major phase of the $200-million redevelopment campaign to revitalize and rejuvenate Assiniboine Park. (

Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park has been given another big boost towards the creation of Canada's Diversity Gardens.

Shirley Richardson and her family announced a $2.5 million donation on Friday, ensuring the Shirley Richardson Butterfly Garden — which opened in a temporary exhibit at the zoo in 2011 — will make the move when the new facility is built.

Richardson said the donation was inspired by time she used to spend with her husband in the park.

Shirley Richardson poses by an artist's rendering of the butterfly garden that will part of the overall Canada's Diversity Gardens at Assiniboine Park. (Julianne Runne/CBC)

"My husband had Alzheimer's disease and we would come over to the park and he would enjoy being in this part of the garden.So my dream developed from those days."

The garden will be located in The Leaf, one of four major cornerstones of the proposed Diversity Gardens. The Leaf, a 6,000-square-metre indoor horticultural facility, will be the centrepiece of the new facility.

The three other cornerstones include:

  • The Indigenous Peoples' Garden — a gathering place where visitors can learn about aboriginal perspectives, cultural practices and contributions.
  • The Cultural Mosaic Gardens — an "ornamental horticultural masterpiece" featuring garden styles from countries across the northern hemisphere.
  • The Grove — where visitors can take in some of the park's majestic trees year-round.

Earlier this year, the Manitoba government announced a $15 million investment in the project, which has a price tag of $70 million.

"Canada's Diversity Gardens will be a place that embraces our multiculturalism as a nation and welcomes people from all walks of life to connect with each other through plant life and biodiversity," said Margaret Redmond, president and CEO of the Assiniboine Park Conservancy.

"This gift will go a long way towards making this project a reality."

Officials have said the project could start as early as 2017 and be completed in 2019.

Canada's Diversity Gardens is the final phase in the $200 million redevelopment campaign to revitalize and rejuvenate the 280-hectare Assiniboine Park.

Richardson's donation brings the total amount raised for the campaign to $155 million.