The Friendship Gate, an example of public space in Nelson, was created five years ago to mark the 30th anniversary of Nelson’s sister city relationship with Izu-shi, Japan. It is located in Cottonwood Falls Park. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

The Friendship Gate, an example of public space in Nelson, was created five years ago to mark the 30th anniversary of Nelson’s sister city relationship with Izu-shi, Japan. It is located in Cottonwood Falls Park. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Path into Nelson’s Friendship Garden next major issue for society

Signage needed to show visitors where garden is

by Timothy Schafer

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Nelson Daily

New pathways are being made into Nelson’s Japanese friendship garden.

More work has been undertaken into the ever-evolving garden created in the city’s Cottonwood Falls Park — including work on the Saturday farmers market site — since the snow receded earlier this year, but the road to the garden is now the next biggest issue.

The north gateway into the park — where people traditionally come in off of the parking area — is undergoing a re-design, noted Councillor Keith Page when city council spoke with members of the Nelson Izu-shi Friendship Society last week.

Although some direction had been provided by city council on improving car facilities in the area, Page looked to the society for further guidance.

“You guys clearly have a very distinct vision, you put a lot of time and effort into how these pieces are thought about,” he said about the friendship garden.

“Are there other ways we can be elevating our design considerations on how that parking will be improved upon that is incorporated into a faithfully representative way … and what we might see of a Japanese garden of this calibre?”

Nelson Izu-Shi Friendship Society president John Armstrong said he was happy for the improvements to the parking area for people coming to Cottonwood.

“But what we are interested in is pathways, and pathways into the park and to gradually introduce people to the fact that they are coming into a park and a Japanese friendship garden,” he told city council.

“I think, in time, you will see an improved entry, especially for pedestrians.”

Armstrong was also looking forward to improved signage so people know where the friendship garden was located, as well as the release of a new brochure.

In 2003 the society created the “Friendship Garden” in Cottonwood Falls Park to honour its relationship with sister city Izu-shi, Japan.

Since that time the society has continued to develop and care for the garden area, and has commenced work on broader improvements at Cottonwood Falls Park.

In 2021 city council recognized and honoured the society with a Sustainability Leadership Award for its work at the park.

Armstrong commented on the annual exchange with Izu-shi, noting that he has been asked numerous times about the prospect of it happening for the first time since COVID-19 shut it down in 2020.

The next exchange depends on the Japanese government, Armstrong said.

“We can’t just go in as individual travellers, and it depends on the comfort people have with hosting visitors,” he said.

The society is interested in doing it again, Armstrong pointed out.

“Maybe next year (it will happen) but most likely 2024,” he said.