B.C. is getting its own Highway of Heroes, the Ministry of Transportation is expected to announce this week.
This Saturday – the same day as the second annual Memorial Ride for the Fallen – the Ministry of Transportation will be unveiling a section of Highway 1, from the 152nd exit in Surrey to the Sumas exit in Abbotsford, which is being renamed Highway of Heroes.
All thanks to a Chilliwack-based organization wanting to pay its respects.
The 3rd CAV (Canadian Army Veterans) Ubique Unit, consisting of army veterans and supporters of veterans, got the ball rolling for the name change last year with its first ever Memorial Ride for the Fallen.
Vice president Barry Drews pegged the motorcycling event as the West Coast Highway of Heroes.
“It was the perfect wording,” he said.
Just two weeks after the CAV’s memorial ride, Drews got a call from the Ministry of Transportation interested in creating a West Coast Highway of Heroes and wanting input from Drews.
Nearly a year passed without another word on the matter. But when the CAV selected the Honour House Society for this year’s charity, they were introduced to Honour House president Allan de Genova, a former Vancouver parks commissioner. Drews said de Genova’s political connections helped speed up the process.
“Allan was instrumental in helping us get the unveiling of the Highway of Heroes on the day of our event … what would normally have taken 40 weeks, took us four,” said Drews.
“This is big, huge. It’s never been done before in western Canada and it’s way overdue.”
Highway of Heroes originates from Ontario where on Highway 401, from CFB Trenton to the coroners office in Toronto, hundreds of people have lined the overpasses along the route since 2002 to pay their respects every time a fallen soldier returns home from Afghanistan. That portion of the highway was officially renamed Highway of Heroes in 2007.
“It is touching beyond belief,” said Drews. “We need something like that here … a number of fallen soldiers have come from B.C and we haven’t had a place to pay our respects. This is a way for people to honour our fallen soldiers and it’s also a sign of respect to the families of the fallen. It’s a constant reminder that we as Canadians care and that their losses will never be forgotten, that it wasn’t for nothing.”
An 18-by-8-foot sign will be posted at each exit that says Highway of Heroes, a dedication to the fallen and their families.