Property north of Kamloops intended to help first responders and armed forces members cope with post-traumatic stress disorder turned out to be cause for emotional triggers.
Noise from a nearby train crossing was among challenges that led Honour House Society to move its proposed ranch project this past fall to Ashcroft.
“The sounds could trigger certain things,” Honour House Society president Allan de Genova said. “Because it ran so frequently at night and you can feel the ground shake a bit. … It’s very traumatic when that train’s coming through and you’re asleep and, all of a sudden, 11 at night you hear them rumbling very heavy.”
The land was donated by Rick and Donna Wanless as a gift to Honour House to expand its work. Honour House opened in 2011 in New Westminster, providing free lodging to first responders and armed forces members who are seeking medical treatment and care in the Lower Mainland.
In 2016, the Wanlesses gifted their ranch along the North Thompson River to Honour House to create Honour Ranch.
De Genova said the project fell through in the fall, with additional issues including a lack of railway signals and flood plain concerns. He labelled a a “miracle” foreclosed property in Ashcroft gifted by a friend within 30 days of the Wanlesses site falling through.
“We picked up the time that we lost, which was good,” de Genova said.
In Ashcroft, the property is 120 acres and has 10 cottages and a main lodge. It is about 90 per cent completed and a work party will conduct cleanup and minor repairs. The ranch is expected to be ready by this summer.
De Genova was at the Thompson-Nicola Regional District meeting on March 28, providing an update on the Honour Ranch project and requesting support on an application to the Agricultural Land Commission.
“We look after hundreds and hundreds of first responders and Canadian Forces personnel from the TNRD that stay at Honour House while they’re getting treatment in the Greater Vancouver area,” he said. “This ranch will give them the treatment they need.”
The Honour House Society is also looking to expand to Ottawa and Halifax. De Genova said he was initially challenged by a general to open Honour House and he has since been challenged to open houses in every Canadian province.
“I’m starting with Ottawa, Halifax — coast to coast to coast — and now I’ll start working my way across the country,” he said.