Memorial pays tribute to West Bench veterans

Regional district secures funds for a community war memorial in West Bench

A veteran’s memorial envisioned by the community of West Bench in 2008 now has the funds to be able to move forward.

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen is receiving a maximum of $24,520 through the federal government Community War Memorial Program.

“This was something very dear to my heart,” said Sue Gibbons, who was instrumental in the project and her father, Bob Jenkins, was one of the original veterans from West Bench. “The West Bench is a very successful veteran lands act subdivision and it was important for me to pay tribute to those original veterans that settled and built their homes here on the West Bench.”

The project will include the construction of a new memorial in Selby Park located in West Bench. The park is named after Eric Selby, a veteran and driving force in the establishment of the West Bench Veterans’ Land Act project. The memorial will include a bronze plaque listing the approximately 180 names of Second World War veterans who settled in the West Bench community.

Okanagan Coquihalla MP Dan Albas was at the announcement on Monday at Selby Park on behalf of Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney.

“One of the things I think is great is we continue to see different ways and means that our government continues to show respect for our veterans,” said Albas. “Supporting the construction of new memorials is one way our government is working to ensure the sacrifices of our veterans will not be forgotten.”

Selby Park is currently a popular access site for mountain bikers to ride on trails on the Penticton Indian Band lands to the west and north. In 2010 the RDOS applied for and received $18,000 in federal matching grants for park upgrades. The money permitted the RDOS to undertake several projects including a riding ring upgrade to improve drainage, erect new fencing and put in sprinklers. The RDOS is currently in the process of creating a non-profit society to manage the Selby Park riding ring as an amenity for all Area F residents.

“What we want to do is take the opportunity with this project to re-engage the community to get some smart, talented people involved. We want to take this money that came from the federal government and our own contributions out of our parks budget and really blow it up into something we can all be proud of,” said Area F director Michael Brydon.