Groundbreaking at Holmberg House

See video online: A ceremony was held at the site of the Abbotsford Hospice Society's adult hospice on Marshall Road.

Breaking ground for Abbotsford Hospice Society's (AHS) new adult hospice are (from left) Mayor Bruce Banman

Breaking ground for Abbotsford Hospice Society's (AHS) new adult hospice are (from left) Mayor Bruce Banman

The first hospice facility in Abbotsford was heralded during a groundbreaking ceremony on Friday as “a place for the heart” and “a hallmark” of the community.

About 100 dignitaries, supporters, volunteers and construction workers gathered for the occasion at the Holmberg House site on Marshall Road, just west of Abbotsford Regional Hospital.

Construction is now set to begin, and the 20,000 sq. ft. facility is expected to open in the late spring or early summer of 2014.

The residence, run by the Abbotsford Hospice Society (AHS), will provide end-of-life care to people 19 years and older, as well as support for grieving families and friends.

“Holmberg House will be a place of security and warmth, a place where loved ones can gather,” Mayor Bruce Banman told the crowd.

AHS executive director Debbie Lehmann said plans to build a hospice residence in Abbotsford have been underway since 1985.

“This is a very special day,” she said of the ground-breaking.

Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong joined Banman, Lehmann and AHS board co-chair Angelo Rea in thanking the Holmberg family for their contributions to the facility.

The hospice is named for Dave Holmberg Jr., who died of cancer in March 2011 at the age of 48.

His family previously announced a $1 million commitment to Holmberg House, which included a $500,000 donation in November.

“At the worst moment in this family’s lives, to step forward and say, ‘We’re going to do something to take this tragedy and turn it into something we can make sense of,’ it really does defy words,” de Jong said.

Dave Holmberg Sr. said the facility will have a “wonderful impact” in the community. His family will continue their support, he said.

Holmberg House is being built as part of the Dave Lede Campus of Care, which also includes Canuck Place Children’s Hospice and Matthew’s House, a respite facility for children with severe disabilities.

Construction on those two facilities is well underway.