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Guest post: A veteran’s memorial for Holland Park

My article outlining the brief history and success of Holland Park’s transformation has sparked a great conversation and a wealth of comments, but none perhaps as proactive and innovative as G’s, who presented a broad concept about moving the Whalley Legion to the park’s corner, along with a corresponding memorial garden and annual Remembrance Day parade down University Drive. I asked him to elaborate on his ideas and to share them in a guest post with everyone. The result is below:

A honor guard during the Remembrance Day ceremonies of 1985

Memorial Garden and New Home for Cenotaph and Whalley Legion

When I first heard and saw the destruction at Holland Park several years ago, I was shocked and amazed at what the City of Surrey was doing. However over the next few years the vision of a great new city park came together and has hosted some great events to date but there just seems to be something missing from the park.

The Cenotaph – located in front of the Whalley Legion was originally found at the corner of 108th Ave and Pacific Hwy (now King George Hwy) across from the Whalley family Gas and General Store and was erected in 1952. With unprecedented growth in the area the Cenotaph was moved to its current location for caretaking until a new city location has been finalized, which at this time still remains uncertain.

Since the redesign and rededication of Holland Park I have always felt that there was something missing and that a Memorial garden and new home for the Cenotaph would be a great inclusion. Imagine if you will a garden containing poppies and other wild flowers, reflecting pools, stone monuments with bronze plaques honoring those from Surrey who gave their lives in service to our great Country. Located at one end of the reflection pool would be the existing Cenotaph with the sun setting behind it honoring those who came before. I would like to see this included in the memorial garden as it is a much smaller Cenotaph than what other Cities have and a new Cenotaph reflecting a new age be built within the park.

For many years the Whalley Legion has been trying to determine its future. It’s been know for a long time that the current building has fallen under hard times and something new is needed. For years debate has gone back and forth as to what to do, remain on the current site and build a new building or move to a new location in either an existing building or build something that will benefit the members and community. As of yet a decision has not been reached.

Changes to Holland Park

Currently the park seems to be cut off along 98B Ave with several houses backing onto the park as seen in this Arial photo shown in yellow area. The City needs to approach these owners and work out a deal for buying back these lands and have them include this space back into the park to better serve the residents and provide better access to the park.

At every event that has been hosted in the park the major concern has been parking, Central City Mall has finally started to bend on its parking restrictions during events but it does not go far enough and parking is very limited., more on this in a moment.

I propose that in orange area that the City of Surrey and Whalley Legion work out a deal to include this as the future site of the new Legion that would back onto the Memorial garden and new Cenotaph be built in the blue area on the backside of the current water feature. The new Legion Hall will include a community hall that would sever both the park users and Veterans of Surrey managed by the Legion for bookings and use. I also envision a two story green parking structure designed to blend into the scope of the park incorporating green technologies located in the red area that would serve both the users of Holland Park and allow for over flow parking for the King George Skytrain, access to this structure would be from King George Hwy and from 98B Ave for overflow parking from events at the Legion and Park.

Future of Holland Park

It has been suggested that University Drive and Old Yale roads be used as a parade route having things end at Holland Park where further events take place following parades. Each year on November 11th all across Canada and around the World at 11:00am people stop what they are doing to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives for Canada. Currently a parade is held at the Whalley Legion each year to mark this occasion but the current location does not blend well with the community and what the Legion stands for. Imagine the parade making its way down University Drive and long Old Yale Rd leading into Holland Park and ending at the New Cenotaph to mark this solemn occasion each year. At the conclusion of the ceremonies the public is welcomed in the Community Hall and Legion Hall across the square to see the War Museum that is currently located in main lounge of the Whalley Legion and greet the Veterans of Surrey.

As a resident of Surrey since 1974, a veteran having served in the Canadian Forces for 5 years and a Legion member for the last 17 years I believe that this would make for great addition to Holland Park and hope that the City of Surrey and the Whalley Legion can work together to make this vision for Holland park a reality. I have started to become a regular user of Holland park and include it on my running routes and being able to run through the park and see the Cenotaph would be fantastic addition and feeling. I in no way speak for the Legion on this matter, but only plant the seed to make others consider it. This is only one persons opinion for its future development but hope as others read this that they to will welcome the idea of being able to have this included in the Holland Park to make it a truly great venue for all the great events that have been held there in the past and sure to be held there in the future.