Gazebos, tunnels and playhouses engage children, parents and staff


Anonymous donation provides inspirational new garden at Variety Hotelier House
Wednesday August 17, 2011 — Ryan Rogers

Supervisor Lesley Cannon at the Variety Hotelier House Children’s Centre in Burnaby says the highlight of her summer has been a dramatic makeover of their garden, which has created an inspiring and engaging space for children, parents and staff members alike.

The invigorating makeover was made possible by a generous, anonymous donation of around $50,000 specifically earmarked for Variety’s garden.

“I couldn’t believe that somebody would give such a large amount of money to us,” says Lesley, adding that staff members were encouraged to “think big” with their ambitions for the garden.

Contractors took six weeks in the early summer to install a new gazebo, playhouse, climbing logs, pathways and fences with a wooden theme that provides a “more natural environment” for children.


Donors who wished to remain anonymous were given a card and before-and-after photographs at the Variety Hotelier House’s official garden opening celebration.

Small chairs and a table that match the logs were also added to the garden, which features long grasses and an arbour that provides shade while children play in the sandbox.

The garden has been designed to be fully inclusive and accessible, including a small table at the sandbox and a slope in the playhouse so a child in a wheelchair can play.

Another feature is a “tunnel” formed by the branches of a willow tree, which will take a season to grow in.

“Eventually the willow tree will grow up and make a tunnel that’s enclosed over the path they’ve made with the logs,” says Lesley.

She says the children have been intrigued and engaged with the new garden.

“They keep coming in and asking questions about walking on the logs,” says Lesley. “They’re curious, excited, and they want to know the new plants’ names.”

She adds that parents have started to linger in the garden when they come, because now they have a place to sit and talk to the children.

Lesley says staff members have new plans for the garden, too, including planting vegetables, like carrots, so the children can grow their own snacks.

The official garden opening celebration on Thursday, Aug. 18 thanked the donors, providing a card signed by all the children, and before-and-after photographs to demonstrate the donation’s impact.

If you have a story you would like to share with the BACI Blast, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 29, or e-mail ryan(at)

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 29, or e-mail ryan(at)



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