After several acts of vandalism, theft and break-and-enter at the Abe Miller Garden, the Yellowknife Association for Community Living is inviting the community to help them solve this problem.

“Over the past year we’ve had enough incidents to determine that enough is enough and the staff came up with a solution, and that is to increase pedestrian traffic through the garden,” says communications officer Daron Letts.

Rather than building fences to keep strangers out, the association which supports people with intellectual and other disabilities and their families is inviting the community in. Letts says people are invited to stroll through the garden with their pets or spend a moment in the ‘oasis’ at 53rd Street just off of Franklin Avenue. Clients at YKACL have made the garden friendly for dogs and their humans, designing and building dog poop bag stations as well as having filled water bowls on hand.

“In quiet moments you can hear loons from Frame Lake, the wind in the trees is wonderful. It’s a refreshing spot right on the edge of downtown.”

Ron Sanders, Justine Cuvelier and Jaimee-Lynn Clouston of the YKACL YES Group (Youth Employment Services) built two Poop Bag stations to help encourage dog walkers to add the Abe Miller Garden to their daily walking route. YKACL

The garden is designed, constructed and maintained by over 30 clients and staff. “They pick the plants that are going in, they plant them, they make decisions alongside staff about how it should look,” Letts says. “Then we have clients that do the watering regularly, they do the weeding, they do the hauling of soil.” A willow sculpture created by local artist Rosanna Strong together with the community and tourists adorns the garden facing the sidewalk.

Letts says the creation of the garden is no small feat and the vandalism is costing the non-profit organization money and time.

“If there are any staff, there are any clients that have to put time into this, that’s time that they aren’t doing something else. They have a lot of productive things to do in the community and repairing things which shouldn’t have been damaged in the first place is a waste of everyone’s time. And it doesn’t make anyone feel good.”

An alarm system and extra lighting have also been installed, but Letts stresses pedestrian traffic is most important. “If (community members) see anything of concern they can just let us know and if it’s at all serious they can just inform the authorities.”