We had a very productive kick-off meeting at the West Bench School library on Monday, December 14th (the meeting annoucement). About a dozen local residents attended.
The primary purpose of the meeting was to identify some high-level objectives for the West Bench veterans tribute project. Based on the group discussion, the following objectives were identified. We did not vote on these objectives but we did identify the veteran aspect as the most important.
- Honor West Bench veterans (primary objective)
- Increase awareness of early West Bench history/stories
- Maximize inclusiveness/community involvement during project development
- Maximize the visibility of the tribute
- Maximize the accessibility of the tribute
- Revitalize West Bench parks
- Minimize cost/maximize access to external grants, if any
We concluded the meeting with a very preliminary discussion of possible ways to satisfy these objectives. For example, we talked about visibility of the location immediately east of the white bridge for a tribute. However, we also recognize that this site does not lend itself to much more than a sign. Selby Park emerged again as a possible site for a more immersive tribute, such as a monument with historical displays. We discussed the possiblity of a central monument (e.g., a plaque with the names of all the orginal veteran residents) with some supporting historical displays about the early days of the West Bench. Again, these are just preliminary ideas. I encourage you to use the comment feature at the bottom of this page or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have anything to add.
The next step is to develop a very rough plan for a tribute in Selby Park. The idea is to create a visual representation to use as the basis for future discussion and brainstorming. Participants in the meeting also identified the importance of getting in touch with the remaining West Bench vets and their families.
We are also looking for more information about the possiblity of creating a supporting book of photos and vignettes. Participants pointed to the Okanagan Archive Trust Society (see http://www.oldphotos.ca/) as an example of how historical photos can be collected and archived. Please let us know if you have any experience with or ideas about putting together such a collection.
Finally, the discussion of visibity and the white bridge led to a general agreement that the existing West Bench map needs updating and that perhaps that space could be used more productively for a welcome to the West Bench. I prefer to treat this as a separate issue; however, the possiblity may exist for addressing both projects at once and tying them together with a shared theme. I will ask the Area F Parks Commission to take a look at the issue.