This painting by artist Heather Hughson depicts the Sybil Andrews Cottage in Willow Point which is in need of a sprinkler system.

Volunteers: Heritage site needs sprinklers

A group dedicated to maintaining the grounds of the city’s historic Sybil Andrews Cottage say they want a level playing field

A group dedicated to maintaining the grounds of the city’s historic Sybil Andrews Cottage say they want the city to put them on a level playing field with Haig Brown House.

Specifically, the group is asking for a sprinkler system – similar to what the Haig Brown property has – in order to enhance the appeal of the cottage.

Paul Ryniak, a member of the Friends of Sybil Andrews Cottage – a  volunteer group dedicated to maintaining and improving gardens on the grounds – said they’re looking for an automatic watering system.

“The weather patterns lately have been dry and hot and getting more dry and hot and most of our time at the cottage has been spent hand watering,” Ryniak said during a presentation to council at last week’s Monday meeting. “We are all senior citizens in the group and hauling the hoses has become a physical impossibility for us and it’s a lot of work.”

Ryniak said volunteers have found that over the last two years that more and more time is being spent on hand watering rather than planting and maintaining the gardens.

He said when the Sybil Andrews Cottage was set onto a new foundation in 2011 and the ground turned up, that group members were “disappointed a system wasn’t put in” by the city at that time.

“So the Friends of Sybil Andrews Cottage are asking you to please install an automatic sprinkler system comparable to the one at Haig Brown House so we can continue to maintain and beautify this unique Campbell River heritage and tourist site,” Ryniak said. “We will continue the ground maintenance, the flowers and lawn maintenance, but as of next year we will not be hand watering. It’s just getting too much for us.”

Ryniak told city council that he wasn’t requesting a specific dollar amount because the group believes the city is better equipped to price out such a system.

Ron Neufeld, the city’s deputy city manager and general manager of operations, said the city could either do it as an in-house project taken on by city staff or contract it out, whichever is the cheapest option.

Mayor Andy Adams suggested the Friends of Sybil Andrews Cottage approach the Willow Point BIA which is given a beautification grant annually from the city.

“A sprinkler system would make the grounds very beautiful,” said Adams, who asked Ryniak if he would entertain the idea of appealing to either the Willow Point BIA or other service organizations that have in the past contributed to Sybil Andrews beautification efforts.

“I would certainly encourage that, it shares the wealth around,” Adams said.

Ryniak said he would take that under advisement but reiterated that the group is simply looking for the Willow Point cottage to receive similar treatment to the Haig Brown House, the city’s other historic building.

“The Haig Brown House and the Sybil Andrews Cottage are heritage bookends,” Ryniak stressed.

The Sybil Andrews Cottage, which is next door to Frank James Park in Willow Point, pays tribute to the internationally acclaimed artist originally from England but who settled in Campbell River with her husband, Walter Morgan, in 1947. Her linocuts are internationally sought after and have sold for more than $120,000. Andrews was known for teaching art and music in her waterfront Willow Point home, where she lived until her death in 1992.

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