Surrey Veterans Village groundbreaking ‘monumental’

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Surrey Veterans Village groundbreaking ‘monumental’
$312-million project to house Canada’s first ‘centre of excellence’ for PTSD and mental health
TOM ZYTARUK / May. 23, 2019
Article Source: https://www.surreynowleader.com/news/surrey-veterans-village-groundbreaking-monumental/
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When Tony Moore describes the groundbreaking for the Legion Veterans Village Project in Whalley as “monumental,” you can take that literally.

Next month, construction will begin on the $312-million project, which will feature two towers that emulate the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France.

Veterans and Legion members, local MPs, members of Surrey city council, MLAs and other dignitaries were on hand for a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday (May 23) to celebrate with a parade march by veterans and community groups, and speeches.

“It’s really fantastic,” said Moore, president of Whalley Legion Branch 229, of the project.

“It’s a monumental event for us.”

The project, initiated by the Royal Canadian Legion BC/Yukon Command, Whalley Legion Branch 229 and the Lark Group, will house Canada’s first “centre of excellence,” treating veterans and first responders with a focus on post-traumatic stress disorder and mental health, as well as the Whalley Legion, which has been operating since 1947 and has been at this particular location, at 13525 106th Ave., since 1960.

“At the time it was the biggest Legion hall in all of the Lower Mainland, the most modern,” Moore noted.

Today, the Whalley branch has roughly 700 members.

“We used to have a lot more.”

At the groundbreaking, Surrey-Whalley MLA Bruce Ralston praised the Veterans Village project, saying he predicts the facility “will be a beacon for British Columbia and Canada for how a modern legion works, and how it can genuinely serve the community.”

Surrey Centre MP Randeep Sarai echoed that, saying the site “symbolizes the future potential of what a modern legion can be.”

Surrey Councillor and acting mayor Laurie Guerra said the city is “honoured to be the site of Canada’s first centre of excellence for veterans and first responders.”

Guerra said the facility will “not only be transformative in the lives of our veterans and first responders, but the striking building will be a landmark, truly a landmark, in Surrey’s skyline.” Construction on the multi-million dollar project, which will also feature an “Innovation Centre for Rehabilitation” will be done in two phases.

It will feature a 20-storey and 26-storey building, with the first phase slated to be finished by early 2022.

Moreover, the development will have 148 market housing units, more than 48 “affordable housing units,” and also offer temporary transitional and “crisis” housing for veterans and their families, as well as others in the community.

The second phase will see construction of the 26-storey building, with 325 market housing units.

Rowena Rizzotti is the project’s lead, and vice-president of health care and innovations for the Lark Group.

She described Thursday’s groundbreaking as “extraordinarily important.”

“This was a vision that was created five years ago by a group of individuals who saw the need to do something that contributed to the lives and well-being of veterans, and who saw that the Whalley Legion branch had an asset in its land-base,” she told the Now-Leader.

“There was an opportunity here to create something magnificent out of this asset.”

Rizzotti called it a “beacon of hope for future veterans, first responders and those who suffer from the outcomes of war and trauma like PTSD and other mental health challenges.”
 

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