The city of Pointe-Claire has broken ground on an orchard that will serve as a memorial for COVID-19 victims and a garden that will provide food for people in need.
Susan Weaver, a resident of the West Island municipality, came up with the idea for the project in March.
During a council meeting, she suggested planting trees around the city in honour of community members who died due to the virus.
Weaver told CBC some of her neighbours died from COVID-19.
"Many of them were elderly," she said. "They built our community."
She added that many "people didn't have a chance during COVID to say goodbye," and said that creating a memorial will help bring the community together.
Following her suggestion, the city decided to create an orchard and a garden.
"The time is right," said John Belvedere, the mayor of Pointe-Claire. "It's been a tough two years on our citizens, and not only our citizens, but everybody whose family had to suffer the loss of somebody from COVID."
The orchard will feature 80 trees — apple, plum and pear — that will be planted in September near the Viburnum entrance to Terra-Cotta Natural Park.
A plaque honouring the victims will also be installed and a vegetable garden has already been planted.
City partners with local food bank
West Island Mission is a local food bank that gets many of its fruits and vegetables from gardens in Pierrefonds-Roxboro and Dollard-des-Ormeaux.
When the mission reached out to Pointe-Claire about doing something similar, plans for a memorial orchard were already taking shape.
"Our hope is the plums, the apples and the pears that are being planted will come and just be complementary to the vegetables that we're already providing," said Suzanne Scarrow, the executive director of West Island Mission.
"Some of that fruit, we'll be able to transform and can it or jar it or freeze it."
It should take a few years before the trees start to bear fruits.