City partnering with community groups to build labyrinth, offering public space for self-healing and reflection
Visitors enjoying the green space and trails at Fairview Park and John Page Park will soon be able to enjoy a quiet space to reflect and meditate.
Signage has recently been erected to note an outdoor walking labyrinth will be constructed in the coming months at Fairview Park, formerly home to the Fairview Golf Course and Mini Putt. The new feature – the first of its kind in a public park St. Catharines – will be installed by the City with the support of the Kiwanis Club of St. Catharines and The Valhalla Project Niagara.
“The Valhalla Project Niagara has been advocating for a labyrinth in our community as a place for people to focus on their mental health and wellbeing,” explained Mayor Walter Sendzik. “With the wonderful help of the Kiwanis Club of St. Catharines, we can now move forward in creating the first public labyrinth in the city. I know this uniquely designed space will help many people in our community for years to come.”
Shawn Bennett, a director with The Valhalla Project Niagara, says labyrinths are widely used to support first responders with post-traumatic stress disorder, one of the initiatives the organization supports through mental health treatment, education and advocacy.
“Some people can’t sit and meditate, so this is a walking meditation a metaphor that you can keep moving forward. There’s lots of twists and turns and you might head back in the other direction, but there’s no dead ends – you will find your centre if you keep moving forward,” said Bennett, noting the St. Catharines labyrinth will be dedicated to all the service animals bringing “calm to suffering people as the labyrinth will”.
The Kiwanis Club of St. Catharines has come forward as a sponsor and will be making a funding contribution to the development of the labyrinth, which will feature a grass walkway, but also include seating and landscaping around it. The sponsorship comes through the club’s regular fundraising, including its ongoing TV bingo and a recent Catch the Ace lottery.
“We’re excited to be part of this project, which will be a unique way to support our community,” said Kiwanis member Cory Abt, acknowledging the efforts of fellow Kiwanis member Len Bates for helping identify the opportunity. “Longer term we are looking forward to further development of this park, and we’re ready to support it and be actively involved with that.”
Construction of the labyrinth will begin in the coming months. Mayor Sendzik said he looks forward to this and other enhancements to the park – a community visioning for the space is planned to take place next summer to determine future opportunities to make the space vibrant, well used and accessible to the community.
“With the construction of the labyrinth and the investments from the City and federal government to expand and enhance trails, there is great work happening, and I look forward to any future vision for this space,” said Sendzik. “It’s centrally located, accessible by transit, and provides good access to all of our community to walk, reflect and enjoy some of the incredible green space our City has to offer.”