Feb. 8 is the grand-opening date for the $312-million project, considered the first of its kind in Canada to integrate housing and health care for veterans, first responders and their families.
“It’s pretty much on track, and right now they’re just doing some final work,” project lead Rowena Rizzotti said this week.
“COVID could have interrupted it significantly, and then of course we had some weather events, but I would say we are very, very fortunate that construction was not interrupted, for any of those issues but also supply-chain reasons. We broke ground in May 2019, so we’re basically right on schedule. Everyone has been unrelenting in their support and focus to make it all work.”
At City Parkway and 106 Avenue, the red-coloured tower project will house a Centre of Clinical Excellence for Veterans & First Responders focused on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mental health, along with market and affordable housing in a mix of nearly 600 units.
“Having so many different uses in one project like this, it is unique, in an integrated model like this,” Rizzotti noted.
The complex will also be home to Whalley Legion Branch 229, in 10,500 square feet of space for restaurant/bar service, a hall for cadet training and more. A temporary Legion facility has now closed in anticipation of the February opening.
“It’s a nice, bright facility, not at all dingy like our former home could be,” raved Legion president Tony Moore, who said a liquor license for the new site is still in the works.
The Legion Veterans Village project has been led by the BC/Yukon Command of the Royal Canadian Legion, together with Whalley Legion Branch 229 and Lark Group. Housing partners are Parc Centrale and Vancouver Resource Society.
The two-phase, multi-purpose project is envisioned to be the first of many across Canada.
“All of the spaces have been basically spoken for, including the clinic spaces, the Legion, the affordable housing, market housing,” Rizzotti said. “The response to this project has been tremendous, better than we imagined. I still get multiple emails a week from people who want to partner in the project, and we want to share this model with other communities, hoping they can be inspired by this and create something similar in other cities.”
On Feb. 8, a fundraising campaign will be launched by the new Legion Veterans Village Research Foundation, “to support and fund the research of science, innovations, and technology that aim to improve the lives of our veterans, first responders, and their families.”
The project grand-opening event will start with “a large parade march around the neighbourhood by Legion members, first responders, community organizations and cadets,” followed by speeches, a concert by musician Terry Kelly and reception in the new Legion hall.
Online, project details are posted on legionveteransvillage.com.