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This article was published 23/3/2012 (3379 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The late matriarch of the Asper family would have been too humble to want it, but her children believe naming a garden after her in the soon-to-be constructed Assiniboine Park Conservatory is a wonderful tribute to her.
"She was a modest person," her son, David, said Friday, shortly after announcing the family's private foundation is donating $2 million to the Assiniboine Park Conservancy's Imagine a Place campaign.
"But she would have liked this project, so we're going to honour her regardless of what she would have liked," he added, chuckling.
The Asper Foundation donation will be split in two, with $1 million going toward construction of the new conservatory and $1 million going into the general campaign to transform parts of the park and the zoo.
As part of the donation, the conservancy is recognizing the Asper gift by naming a garden the Babs Asper Floral Garden.
Ruth (Babs) Asper, mother of David, Gail and Leonard, and wife of the late media mogul Izzy, died last year.
Margaret Redmond, the conservancy's president and CEO, expressed gratitude to both David Asper and his sister Gail, who were in attendance at Friday's announcement.
"This is just fantastic," Redmond said. "Donations like this are important and inspiring to keep this amazing vision moving forward."
Redmond said the plan is to begin construction on the conservatory in 2014 and open it on New Year's Day 2017.
Harvey Secter, a member of the conservancy board of directors, said the Asper donation follows other donations by the family to projects in the park, including the Lyric Theatre, the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden and the restoration of the pavilion.
"We couldn't advance our goals here without the support from the private sector," he said.
Earlier, David Asper said his family has enjoyed going to the park for years, whether it's dining at the pavilion, riding the steam train or even "getting to wipe poop off my dad's head on the Citizen Hall of Fame," referring to a bust of his late father.
"It just reflects our family's history with the park and the importance we attach to it. You have to have a commons -- all great cities have a commons -- that's what's so fantastic about this facility."
David Asper called the conservancy's plans for the park "unbelievable" and added "the decision to support the park is a no-brainer."
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.