Sod turning marks the beginning of construction on Kingston Veterans’ Village

(L to R): MPP Ted Hsu, MP Mark Gerretsen, Mark Hutchings, Mayor Bryan Paterson, and Cameron Diggon dig in to turn the sod marking the beginning of the Construction phase of the Kingston Veterans Village. Photo by Michelle Dorey Forestell/Kingstonist.

The sod has been turned, marking the beginning of the construction phase of the Kingston Veterans’ Village.

It is estimated that there are more than 150 Veterans in Kingston and the surrounding area who could use the services offered by the Homes For Heroes Kingston Veterans’ Village which will open to clients on Nov.1, 2023.

Homes for Heroes Foundation, whose mission is to integrate all of Canada’s homeless military veterans into the community through the provision of housing and support services across Canada, began the project some 18 months ago raising interest and funds. Mark Hutchings, the Chairman of the Kingston Veterans’ Village Project Team, served as the Master of Ceremonies at the official sod-turning ceremony which took place Friday, Apr. 14, 2023, at the eastern corner of King Street West and Estates Lane.

Hutchings welcomed attendees to the sod-turning event. “I have the honour of being the chairman of the committee [that is] making this happen in Kingston… [and] today, we’re on this site [ready for construction], which is just terrific.”

“There are already two of these [Veterans’ Villages] in Canada. One’s in Calgary, one’s in Edmonton. They’re proven to be effective,” he stated. “24 of the people who have been brought in as customers are now back in society, as useful citizens, earning their own way. And, that proven methodology is going to be followed here.”

“And I just have to say that, because we’ve used the architecture from Sydenham Ward in the development of this, it is going to be the most beautiful one in the country. With bay windows and the full copper roofs and limestone, it’s going to look terrific. I think all the neighbours are going to be happy that it’s here,” Hutchings remarked before calling on the Mayor of Kingston to say a few words.

A computer-generated image depicting the completed Veterans Village. Submitted image.

“Mayor Bryan Paterson has been a terrific supporter throughout, said Hutchings. “His energy, which he’s instilled in the staff at City Hall, has really made this come along very quickly.”

Mayor Paterson began by celebrating the beautiful spring weather. “What an amazing day for our groundbreaking. This is just a beautiful location with an incredible vision for the very first home of a Home for Heroes in Ontario.”

“What this [village] could do, the difference it could make in the lives of so many individuals, veterans that have given so much to our country,” he continued. “[To have] an opportunity to be able to give back to them? I can’t think of a greater vision than that. I’m delighted that we have this beautiful spot here and a beautiful property here in the City to be able to see this vision go forward. As a City, it’s been an honour to be able to support and contribute to this… [it’s] a great example of collaboration and what’s possible when all levels of government work together, together with private partners, and the entire community all pulled together. This is the sort of thing we can accomplish. So I think it’s exciting. It’s a fantastic day.”

The Mayor remarked on the number of City Councillors who were on hand and then said, “I know that I speak for all of City Council when I say it is a great testament to just what it is that we can accomplish here as a community. So I just want to say congratulations: it’s one thing to have a vision; it’s another thing to be able to see that vision come to fruition, and that takes a lot of passion and energy and focus. [The committee] has been amazing. It’s been a privilege to support you and I look forward to the ribbon cutting where we can invite our very first residents here.”

Mark Gerretsen, Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands, also addressed the attendees. “The federal government is absolutely committed in any way possible to assisting with affordable housing throughout the entire country. This project is partially supported by the Co-investment Fund that comes out of the National Housing Strategy. Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation is also actively involved in this project.”

“And of course, our Minister of Veterans, Lawrence MacAuley, who I am here to represent today. He’s extremely delighted,” Gerretsen continued.

“I know he’s had the opportunity to tour some of the other projects in Alberta and he speaks very highly of them… So I’m thrilled to be here today,” noted the MP. “And I look forward, like Mayor Paterson said, to when we can officially open the doors and 20 new residents are being properly taken care of. Quite frankly, [veterans] deserve that from us and from society.”

With that, Ted Hsu, MPP for Kingston and the Islands, and Cameron Diggon, Vice President & Director of Fund Development for Homes For Heroes, joined the MP, the Mayor, and the committee Chairman, as they all donned hard hats and turned the earth where the village will be constructed.

Left to Right: MPP Ted Hsu, MP Mark Gerretsen, Mark Hutchings, Mayor Bryan Paterson, and Cameron Diggon were all smiles preparing the earth. Photo by Michelle Dorey Forestell/Kingstonist.

The Homes For Heroes Kingston Veterans’ Village is located at 730 King Street West, here in Kingston. Once completed, the Kingston Veterans’ Village will consist of 20 tiny homes, a resource center, social service offices, community gardens, and a community recreation space. All homes face inward to facilitate peer-to-peer support, with each home being 300 square feet in size and fully equipped with all the features of a larger home.

One thought on “Sod turning marks the beginning of construction on Kingston Veterans’ Village

  • So proud of this group of people and the many people behind the scenes. This is a much needed achievement. Finally.

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