Nature sanctuary gets $60,000 grant

Discovery Nature Sanctuary received $60,000 through Co-op's Community Spaces program. The money will go toward construction of an outdoor education centre. (LAUREN MACGILL, Winkler Times)

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A major donation will go a long way to getting an outdoor classroom installed at Discovery Nature Sanctuary.

The sanctuary was the recipient of $60,000 as part of Co-op’s Community Spaces program on June 28.

“When you have a committee and you have no funds, you have to go out and find them,” Committee Member Margaret Klassen said. “Considering where we were a year and a half ago, we’ve come a long way.”

The Co-op grant will be going toward the installation of an outdoor education centre.

“We have a lot of schools using the sanctuary already,” Klassen said. “It’ll be a place where they can put their backpacks, where their teachers can actually teach from.”

Discovery Nature Sanctuary held their water festival in the spring and had to rent a tent for the event. The educational centre will be 1,200 square feet and will allow the sanctuary to host events.
“I think it’ll be used a lot,” Klassen said.

The sanctuary has only been open for a year, and the 32 acre space features woodland, grassland and wetland habitats.

“The sanctuary has come so far in such a short period of time,” Klassen said. “We couldn’t do it without the donations and the grants that we have received.”

The dock was donated by Access Credit Union and the bridges in the sanctuary were donated by local businesses as well.

The committee has already raised $10,000 for the classroom and anticipate they will need to fundraise another $10,000.

Winkler Co-op General Manager Evan Toews said Co-op was excited to see the grant going to Discovery Nature Sanctuary.

“It’s great to see that our area of Southern Manitoba is a recipient again,” he said. “It doesn’t happen everywhere and we recognize that it’s a real blessing for us and for the community.”

Since 2015, the Community Spaces granting program has donated $8.5 million to 114 projects.
Last year, Southwood Elementary School in Schanzenfeld received $30,000 from the program for their natural outdoor play space.

Toews said it’s surprising that a nature sanctuary can exist within city limits. “The nature and the wildlife that people can see is really within walking distance of where we live,” he said.

Klassen said there are other projects on the go for the sanctuary, like getting signage installed.
“Without donations and grants, we can’t make that happen,” she said.