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What we're doing


Naturalization of the Owen Sound Hospital Grounds began in 2017 when the  NeighbourWoods North Steering Committee members proposed a project to  Grey Bruce Health Services administration that would  improve the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of patients, visitors, staff and community.   

A vision of the hospital grounds resplendid with trees, shrubs, gardens, pathways, and artwork germinated and grew.  An accessible path surrounding the hospital to enable patients, visitors, staff, and community members to stroll, enjoy nature, and take a break was envisioned. Seating areas with local artwork are to be located along the accessible Healing Path.  The new more naturalized grounds, paths and artwork will provide a needed break for those who are hospitalized or visiting friends and family. For staff and the greater community, it will be an easily accessible area to get some exercise and rejuvenate.  The whole community benefits as we can all  breathe easier as trees help to fight the many environmental challenges facing our city and world.

The Forest of Hope and Healing is well underway.  A spruce windbreak was planted across from the Emergency Room entrance and flowering crabapple trees planted to line the 16th Ave East Entrance laneway. To date over 3000 trees have been planted in this area.  In the spring and summer of 2020, the Welcoming Garden at the main entrance of the hospital was established.  The TD Fall Tree Planting took place the same year.  Trees were planted along 8th Street East and 16th Ave East across from the helicopter pad near a corridor that is to become the accessible Healing Path.  In 2021 the Habitat Gardens, an area to the the south of the helicopter pad, was begun.  This area of native plants has already hosted both native birds and insects.  Building the first section of the Healing Path is scheduled to begin this fall. 

Setbacks have occurred: poor soil conditions, a near drought in the first year, the expansion of the parking lot, the advanced age of many of the volunteers, grants turned down and Covid have slowed some of the progress.  But many more positive things have occurred.    Prior to covid, many people volunteered for mass plantings.  Local businesses have been supportive. The hospital has contributed funds.  People have been generous in donating plants - some one by one and others in quantities.  Grant applications have been successful.  Covid has become less of a threat.  While more - and younger - volunteers are needed a core group of regular volunteers shows up at every opportunity.  Lots of mulch has been donated and spread, helping to improve soil

Pine Cone 4

quality.  People with knowledge of flowers, trees, shrubs, and path building have been available and generous with thier time and knowledge.


So the work continues with more plantings every spring and fall  and care for the trees and plants is ongoing.  Grants are written and some are approved.   Discussions are held with hospital administration and staff to ensure procedures are followed and support is on-going.  Funding is discussed with community groups, businesses, and other potential donators.  Volunteers are recruited.  The local press is kept informed of major developments.


A lot has been accomplished but more is needed. NeighbourWoods North needs your help. Volunteers to help plant and care for the trees, shrubs, flowers and build and maintain the paths. Funding for all the soil, plants and equipment is needed; most is done through grants, donations and fundraisers. Local artists must be contacted, engaged and paid. Local businesses are welcome to become involved in any aspect - volunteering, fundraising, donations and will be recognized for their efforts. Slowly, but steadily that grand vision for a community space of hope and healing is becoming a reality. 



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