Royal Canadian Legion building veterans housing in Sault Ste. Marie

The Royal Canadian Legion branch in Sault Ste. Marie has announced the construction of a new veteran housing project. The nine-story, 107-unit apartment complex will be built on the current site of the Branch 25 Legion on Great Northern Road.

Legion officials said the location makes sense given its proximity to public transit, parks, and shopping. Helen Stewart, president of Branch 25, said the Legion will still operate out of the new facility, with expanded services.

"Each floor will have a common room that we are going to entice psychologists or physiotherapists or whatever a veteran needs to make his life better in there, so that they will have complete access without leaving the building," said Stewart.

Branch 25 sits on the site of the former Wawanosh Residential School for Girls, and Stewart said the memorial for the school will remain where it is.

"We made that perfectly clear when we were first approached, when the first drawings came out, that cannot be moved, it has to stay there," she said. "It is part of the whole history of the area and especially this property."

The Legion said the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association has confirmed there is a "high probability of no unmarked burials in the area."

Sam Biasucci, general manager of Sal Dan Developments, said the project is ready to go pending final approval from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

"Once we have received that, we're basically ready to actually commence construction," said Biasucci. "We have everything that we need from the municipality for every aspect of construction."

Local dignitaries, including Sault Ste. Marie MP-elect Terry Sheehan and Mayor Christian Provenzano, were on hand for the unveiling of the plans.

"It is a major, major project for this community and I personally support it," said Sheehan.

"I think it's a tremendous development," said Provenzano. "I want to recognize and congratulate Legion Branch 25 and the private-sector partner Sal Dan, Mr. Biasucci, for working on this together."

Branch 25 will operate out of the Marconi Cultural Event Centre once construction of the housing project begins. Officials hope to have shovels in the ground before winter.