Bravery Park finds its new, permanent home at Alder Parklands

June 1, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Pickford

There were smiles all around at Town Council on Monday night (May 29) as the municipality officially confirmed the Alder parklands as the site for Orangeville’s Bravery Park.

As reported in last week’s Citizen, Bravery Park is a concept more than six years in the making. Launched in 2010 by mother-daughter duo Shannon and Valerie McGrady, the facility has been designed to provide local residents with a special place of reflection where they can honour the bravery, achievements and sacrifices of the Canadian military.

Inspired by Cpl. Matthew McCully, an Orangeville native who was killed by a roadside bomb near a small village outside Kandahar City, Afghanistan on May 25, 2007, the park is to be a living testament to all those who have served overseas in the Canadian military. For Shannon and Valerie, sister and mother to Cpl. McCully respectively, the approval brings an end to the uncertainty surrounding a project they’ve introduced to other communities across the country, including in Prince George, British Columbia.

“The journey for Bravery Park has been a long one. We have lost potential sites and, at times, lost hope, but the support of our citizens and our community has been unwavering,” Shannon told council. “2017 is a significant year. It represents Canada’s 150th birthday, and it brings the 10th anniversary of my brother’s passing. What better way to show love for Canada than to show our appreciation and deep respect for those who sacrifice everything to ensure Canada remains the incredible, safe and free country we all love?”

She added, “Let’s celebrate Canada’s 150th together by finally putting a shovel in the ground and nailing down the Bravery Park sign once and for all.”

Plans for the $170,000 project include a seven-foot bronze monument, which will display a Canadian soldier kneeling beside two Afghani children, a memorial wall, a labyrinth/aboriginal medicine wheel designed to promote deep thought and a playground. So far, the group has raised just over $80,000, with the Amaranth Lions Club committing to covering the costs of the playground. With a site now confirmed, Shannon said she could go out into the community and actively fundraise for the remaining $90,000.

Coun. Gail Campbell thanked Shannon and Valerie for their dedication in pushing this project forward, stating she was thrilled to see the park finally lock down a permanent location.

Mayor Jeremy Williams has long been a supporter of the Bravery Park committee and its mission to bring a dedicated park site to Orangeville. He shared a story with the rest of council highlighting a “special” memory he shared with some of Cpl. McCully’s friends shortly after his passing.

“I’ve always felt a special connection to your son,” Mayor Williams told Valerie. “I never knew (Matthew) when he was alive, but I did get to know some of his friends after the fact. I remember one day going out to the cemetery where his friends would gather together to remember him. It’s funny, because in that moment with his friends around the grave site, toasting him, they talked about him as if he were still there and it really moved me.”

He added, “I’ve always been behind your case 100 percent and I can’t wait to see this project completed. This is the right thing to do and I really do think it’s the perfect place for the park.”

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