Saanich council unanimously agreed to contribute $3,500 to a film about the Road of Remembrance – the portion of Shelbourne Street where London Planetrees were planted to honour the veterans of the First World War – and others immediately stepped in to contribute.
The original motion put forward by Coun. Susan Brice recommended that Saanich contribute up to $7,000 to the short film that the Memorial Avenue Committee and Royal Roads University are looking to produce. The film would draw attention to the significance of the trees which were planted in 1921 and highlight the fact that Saanich is home to Canada’s oldest Road of Remembrance.
During the Nov. 4 council meeting, Brice amended the motion to support the project as members of the community had come forward to indicate their willingness to donate to the production on behalf of Saanich. Within a few days, council received a letter from Wesbild, the company that owns the University Heights property on Shelbourne Street.
The team at Wesbild reviewed the request for council to provide funding for the Memorial Planetree film and offered to partner with the District to contribute 50 per cent of the requested funds. This meant that council only needed to approve a donation of $3,500.
“As neighbours to the Shelbourne Memorial Avenue at University Heights, we fully support the initiative taken by the Shelbourne Memorial Avenue Committee and Royal Roads University to produce a short film,” said Bentley Harris, director of development at Wesbild. “In honour of the sacrifices made by the Canadian veterans, we wanted to make a financial commitment to the project.”
Wesbild also offered to contribute to creating a First World War memorial placard and planting more London Planetrees along Shelbourne Street as part of the company’s proposed University Heights redevelopment project.
Council agreed to contribute the film from the Strategic Initiatives Fund and to write a thank you letter to Wesbild.
On Thursday afternoon, Brice received an email from the Saanich Firefighters’ Union indicating that the members would like to donate $500 to the project.
They see it as an “opportunity to honour those who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” said Brice.
She was pleased about the support of council and the community’s contributions. She credited the proximity to Remembrance Day for the generosity.
“It’s a wonderful project that recognizes the enormous sacrifices made [in the First World War],” she noted.
She hopes the film reminds people of the story that the trees tell and “sharpens the focus” on veterans as the war gets further away in history.