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Margaret’s Path honours community champion

Park pathway honours renowned volunteer, city councillor
ON PATH — Richard Plain (left) and Society of Friends of the St. Albert Botanic Park president Lyn Reynolds check out the new brick walkway in the St. Albert Botanic Park June 2, 2023. The path, dedicated to former city councillor Margaret Plain, officially opens June 10. KEVIN MA/St. Albert Gazette

Margaret Plain loved roses.

Fitting, then, that the latest addition to the botanic park she helped plant in St. Albert runs right through the rose garden.

About 120 people will be at the St. Albert Botanic Park this June 10 to mark the grand opening of Margaret’s Path — a new brick path that runs through the Richard Plain Rose Garden.

Completed last spring, this path is the final section of a walkway that starts at the west end of the park and ends at the east, said Lyn Reynolds, president of the Society of Friends of the St. Albert Botanic Park.

“We’ve made it completely wheelchair accessible for everyone,” she said of the park. “And also easier for volunteers for when they’re hauling things back and forth, too.”

Margaret was one of the co-founders of St. Albert’s botanic park and spent many years writing its bylaws, planting its flowers, and growing its crops in the trial gardens, said her widower, Richard Plain. She also co-founded St. Albert Stop Abuse in Families, chaired the St. Albert 150th anniversary committee, served five terms on city council, and was declared the 2010 St. Albert Volunteer Citizen of the Decade. She died Sept. 30, 2021.

“Margaret was a gardener,” Richard said, so the family asked well-wishers to send donations to a memorial fund run by the botanic park.

The botanic park has for many years had long stretches of unpaved grass which challenge seniors and wheelchair users, Richard said. Last summer, the society opened a brick path called Memory Lane that ran through the park’s west wing and linked to a second path in the centre wing, leaving the rose garden as the only part of the park without a hardened walkway. The Plain family decided to use the memorial fund to build a path dedicated to Margaret through the rose garden.

“Margaret very much liked the rose garden,” Richard said. She always insisted it include her favourite variety: the white-and-red-petaled Double Delight rose.

“To us, (this path) is part of a legacy Margaret made in our community.”

Reynolds said Margaret and Richard were her go-to sources whenever she had questions about roses, and a volunteer recently told her it was Margaret who sold them the first rose they ever bought at the botanic park.

“Her contribution here was significant.”

Richard and Reynolds said Saturday’s event will feature speeches from dignitaries and light refreshments. The event is open to the public.

The opening ceremony starts at 2 p.m. in the botanic park’s rose garden, which can be found on Sturgeon Road between Woodlands Road and Sir Winston Churchill Ave.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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