The newly expanded Songhees Park has officially opened along Victoria’s Inner Harbour.
The project, located beside the Johnson Street Bridge, increased the size of Songhees Park by 1.8 acres (25%) and transformed it into a hillside greenspace, consisting of a Garry oak maritime meadow and coastal bluff gardens, accessible pathways, new lighting, extensive seating and a new timber viewing platform.
The new park area, completed in partnership between the City of Victoria and Songhees First Nation, is located at the site of the former Songhees Village and Reserve, which remained until 1911.
Other new features include a new timber viewing platform, seating walls that display a Lekwungen canoe paddle designed by the city’s Indigenous Artist-in-Residence, Dylan Thomas.
The park’s new greenspaces also includes 55 new trees and 55 species of Indigenous plant—the newly expanded area will allow people to connect with Lekwungen art and culture while offering places to relax, gather and connect with nature, says the City of Victoria.
“This spectacular waterfront park increases the visibility of Lekwungen identity and honours the homelands of the Lekwungen people,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.
“Through the collaborative design of this important site, we are taking further steps on the path of reconciliation and our shared future. We deeply appreciate the time that the Lekwungen language team has put into this project.”
The Songhees Nation provided input on how to update the park, including a focus on environmental revitalization and information on Lekwungen identity and culture.
“Songhees Nation is pleased to be working with the City of Victoria on the expansion of Songhees Park as another step toward reconciliation,” said Chief Ron Sam in a statement.
“This expansion will continue to serve our community and provide a safe environment in which our people are valued, respected and cared for. Every step towards reconciliation in our city is vital,” said Songhees First Nation Chief Ron Sam.
“We thank Mayor Helps and Council for their work on this important initiative,” Sam added.
The city said it would continue to coordinate with the Songhees Nation over the coming year to create additional artwork and an interactive educational program for park visitors to enjoy.
The $3-million project was been completed on budget.
The city noted that Songhees Park is “a key connection point” in Victoria’s active transportation network, linking the Galloping Goose trail, the E&N Rail Trail, the Johnson Street Bridge and the Songhees Walkway.