Demolition of the historic Whalley Legion began Tuesday (June 11) to make way for the $312-million Veterans Village project to be built in its place.
“Goodbye legion 229,” Whalley legion president Tony Moore wrote in an email to the Now-Leader, also sharing a photo of the partially torn down building at 13525 106th Ave., where the legion has operated since 1948.
As of Tuesday afternoon, about half of the main building was still standing.
“This will be taken down tomorrow if all goes well,” project superintendent Kelly Richter told the Now-Leader. “The demo team will be on site for the rest of the week.”
Last month, a ground-breaking ceremony for the Legion Veterans Village project was held. Once built, the site 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 the May 23 groundbreaking ceremony and to celebrate with a parade march by veterans and community groups, and speeches.
At the time, Moore described the Veterans Village as a “monumental” project.
Veterans Village was 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.
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.
And there you have it. We’ve officially broken ground on the Legion Veterans Village in Whalley. https://t.co/5Q6SqNHFnR #surreybc @randeepssarai @anitahuberman @BruceRalston @CityofSurrey @larkgroup1 @whalleylegion pic.twitter.com/Sr7wgCJHfA
— Amy Marie Reid (@amyreid87) May 23, 2019
At the May 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.”
Meantime, the Whalley’s branch’s temporary home is in a former Japanese restaurant across from the Ukrainian church down the street. The Legion vacated its old digs on April 21.
With files from Tom Zytaruk