The LAV III monument project in Morinville is now open for donations to help get it across the finish line.
To honour Canada’s military and veterans, the monument would feature a decommissioned LAV III light-armoured vehicle at its centre, with bilingual dedicated memorial plaques, a surrounding walkway, flowerbeds and benches.
Rotary Club of Morinville member Gordon Putnam gave an update on the project to the Morinville Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 5.
“We know that in Morinville and the region, the population of our military is around 20 to 30 per cent,” Putnam said. “Those are some that are currently serving, and some people that have retired and decided to stay here as well.”
Located on the Morinville Leisure Centre grounds near Highway 642, the monument is expected to cost $450,000. Putnam said they’ve received $100,000 in in-kind donations, but they still need between $200-$250,000 to finish the rest of the project.
“It’s what goes around the LAV III that’s going to be the major expense in terms of the trees, shrubbery, concrete work or asphalt on the sidewalks and walkways,” he said.
The project has applied for a Veterans Affairs grant to help with funding, but changes to the grant process mean the organizers have to show they’ve raised enough money for the project first before the government decides to support the application, Putnam said.
To get the LAV III from London, Ontario to Alberta, the organizers partnered with a Regina LAV III Monument project to transport the LAV III on a truck to CFB Edmonton, a Canadian Forces base located in Sturgeon County. The vehicle will be stored there until the site is ready.
It wasn’t exactly an easy process – the LAV III doesn't move like it normally would as there's no engine and the steering is welded together, so it’s not possible to steer the vehicle itself and it had to be transported by truck. To unload the monument, a 100-tonne crane had to lift the vehicle up in the air while the flatbed truck drove away, then allowing the monument to be lowered to the ground and be towed to its temporary location within 1 Service Battalion.
“Within 1 Service Battalion, the whole shop floor paused what they had been working on to watch our unloading process, because we normally don't see armoured vehicles in the air,” said Jayson Wood, designated official for the project.
Wood served in the Canadian Army at CFB Edmonton for a number of years, before being medically released in 2015 due to a service injury. When Wood initially established the project in 2016, he saw it as an opportunity for the region to show its appreciation for its military members in a relevant way while also providing a unique tool to educate youth.
“I want something there for my kids. It’s something for them to understand some of the sacrifices they made for me being on exercise. While I may not have gone overseas, the sacrifices were made on the Fort McMurray fires, the Calgary floods, and the Red River floods,” he said, noting members may be away from their families for six months or more than a year.
“It’s another unique opportunity for Morinville to show how much appreciation they had for those who have endured the ultimate sacrifice.”
To officially kickstart their fundraising efforts, the Morinville LAV III project launched their website, www.morinvillelav.com, which gives more information about the monument with options to donate online. The goal right now is to have enough money raised by this fall, Putnam said.