Two of the city’s biggest insurance companies stepped forward today with donations to repave and extend the network of pathways at the Assiniboine Park.
Desjardins Insurance donated $500,000, the single largest donation the health and life insurer has ever made in Western Canada.
It represents a quarter of the $2 million the Assiniboine Park Conservancy estimates is needed to restore the seven-kilometre system of pathways.
The donations bring the total tally for the park’s $200 million redevelopment campaign to $126 million.
Conservancy president and CEO Margaret Redmond expressed gratitude to the donors.
"The pathways in Assiniboine Park are a free and accessible way for people of all ages, interests and abilities to be active and enjoy the park’s natural beauty year round. We know that at any given time we have four- to five-(hundred) people, runners and walkers strolling the pathways. They are an integral part of the park experience," she said.
Desjardins is the fifth largest life insurance company in Canada.
Western Financial Group, one of Desjardins’ business partners, donated an additional $100,000 as part of this morning’s announcement, made on the pathway that leads to the Assiniboine Park Pavilion.
That donation is earmarked for improvements to the Children’s Nature Playground, said Grant Ostir, president and CEO of Western’s group insurance solutions.
"As a life and health insurer, our priority is to promote the health of all Canadians," said Desjardins executive Jean-Francois Chalifoux. "When we saw how the pathways in Assiniboine Park contributed to the well-being of those who use them, we knew it was a perfect fit for us.
"This gift doesn’t only make sense from a business perspective. It’s important to give back to the community we do business in."
Don Peterkin, the park’s COO, said today’s donation will cover the beginning of an extensive restoration to about half of the park’s pathways. The focus is to improve accessibility to existing paths and to build new ones, starting this fall, with a path to link the zoo parking lot to the zoo entrance.