Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden project at risk following Alberta budget 2020

Expansion plans for one of Lethbridge’s main attractions could be put on hold after the Alberta government’s recently released provincial budget.

Adjacent to Henderson Park, the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden has been open on the city’s south side for over 50 years.

Previously, the City of Lethbridge committed $2,647 in funding to help the historical garden build a new indoor facility to provide space for further programming and event rentals, regardless of weather conditions.

However, after the provincial budget reduced municipal sustainability funding, the city is being forced to re-examine priority projects.

“Currently Nikka Yuko has maximized their space,” city spokesperson Michelle Day said Wednesday. “To be able to generate more revenue, we need that indoor space to offer more packages, more revenue opportunities.”

Speaking at a February council meeting before the budget was released, Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman said the city was re-examining several local projects.

“Finances from the province are under review. Municipalities are not immune from that, and we have to respond,” Spearman said.

Council is set to make a decision Monday. March 9, 2020.

According to the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden’s website, the purpose of the garden itself is to “recognize contributions made by citizens of Japanese ancestry to the community of Lethbridge, Alberta, and as a symbol of international friendship.”

The Winter Light Festival held at the garden welcomed more than 17,000 people this winter—a growth of 60 per cent since it first began in 2016.

“Not only do we have a beautiful display … We’re creating wonderful experiences,” Day added.

– With files from Emily Olsen, Global News

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