A project near and dear to the hearts of many has been officially given the greenlight to proceed with the full support of the Town of Outlook and, hopefully, the support of community and area residents.
The future Veterans Memorial Park, spearheaded by Outlook Branch #262 of the Royal Canadian Legion under a joint partnership with the Town, will be constructed on the greenspace located at the four-way intersection at McKenzie Street and Saskatchewan Avenue. The project was formally announced by the Legion during their online Remembrance Day service last month, but it received the full backing of the Town of Outlook during last week’s council meeting.
Outlook Branch #262 President John McPhail says quotes have been obtained for the work that lays ahead for the park, which is targeting this coming spring to begin construction.
“We have quotes for paving, purchasing a bronze plaque explaining the history and purpose of the Veterans Memorial Park, moving the three memorials, installing electricity and lighting, relocating underground sprinkler lines, installing benches, purchasing and erecting three flagpoles (Canada, Saskatchewan, Royal Canadian Legion), and preparing two flower beds which will feature poppy seeds from Flanders Fields,” explained John, in an email to this reporter. “Work will begin in April 2021, with an official opening to happen later in the year, perhaps September.”
The Legion branch’s budget for the park is approximately $58,000 and work has already commenced in obtaining funds. Two applications are pending in the hopes of gaining $20,000 in corporate sponsorship, but the branch has already received $1,500 from Prairie Centre Credit Union while another corporate donation of $5,000 has been approved (company name withheld until the cheque receipt has been formally acknowledged).
As well, the branch has submitted two other corporate applications of which they’re waiting to hear back on; one for $5,000 and another for $12,000.
Branch #262 is also hopeful that an application to Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) for $25,000 will be successful, and McPhail noted that through correspondence with VAC in Charlottetown, the branch has received positive feedback about its proposal to create a Veterans Memorial Park. VAC also has a special program for memorials, but it will likely be after January that the Outlook Legion branch will receive a decision.
Here at the local level, with word having already spread here and there about the park project, Branch #262 has already received donations from individuals and local organizations, including one for $1,000 and another for $500.
McPhail says Branch #262’s financial goal they hope to reach locally gives branch members optimism about the park project.
“Our goal is to fundraise at least $10,000 locally,” he said. “Based on the positive feedback we have received from dozens of townspeople, we are optimistic that we can reach that goal.”
While COVID-19 has had an obvious impact on the world and forced organizations to alter how they may operate, McPhail says that the park project is far too important to postpone and that the pandemic isn’t strong enough to curtail the goal that Branch #262 has of honouring Canada’s Veterans of both past and present.
“Should our fundraising not proceed as planned, we will delay the work,” said John. “However, under no circumstance will Branch 262 abandon the plan to create a memorial that will honour Veterans right into the next century. The goal is too important to be set aside because of obstacles, including COVID-19.”
In other Legion news, McPhail wants to let the public know of a campaign that may see residents get a phone call asking for donations. This particular campaign is surrounding the Military Service Recognition Book, of which Outlook Branch #262 submits names of Veterans every year. Each year, the publisher of the book, with the approval of the Royal Canadian Legion’s Saskatchewan Command, conducts a phone campaign soliciting donations. So, if you may receive a phone call regarding the book, please know that the call is legitimate and not part of an unfortunate scam. Because the Military Service Recognition Book is free, the publisher depends upon advertising and donations for its revenue. Branch #262, for example, makes an annual donation. If you receive a phone call asking for donations, you may see any of the following numbers:
As for donations to be made to the Veterans Memorial Park project, prospective donors can expect to see specific information on Branch #262’s Facebook page, as well as a poster on the bulletin board located outside of the Outlook post office. Official tax receipts will be issued for donations.
If donors wish to contribute to the park project before December 31, they can call John McPhail at (306) 867-9718.
As we look to wait out the winter here on the Prairies, there is little doubt that a mixture of emotion and excitement is already building as Branch #262 eagerly anticipates the spring in order to get shovels in the ground on this incredible and most worthwhile project.