By Kathryn Stocks

Major changes are coming to the Tony Stacey Centre for Veterans Care. Vito Greto, board chair and leader of the strategic rebuild committee, said that short-term changes like enhancement of the programs for residents and the community are already happening. Longer term, they’re looking at a rebuild. The centre’s new director, Melissa Elliott, is instituting those changes.

The therapy pool is back up and running after $25,000 was spent fixing the pumps and replacing tiles. This is good news for residents and community members who need it. The Stacey Centre, which was opened in 1976, is getting old and Vito said it needs a lot of TLC just to keep it compliant with Health Ministry regulations.

As they look ahead, he said it’s hard to know what’s going to happen. Back in the mid-90s when the centre was no longer reserved just for veterans and their spouses, it fell into a grey area and it’s difficult to get funds from Veterans Affairs. Health care is a provincial jurisdiction and veterans are a federal ministry so “we really get very little help at all. We’re a bit of a hybrid.”

The centre is compliant with all safety, nursing care and food regulations, but “there’s not a lot of extra funds to do additional programming or enhancements to the facility itself,” Vito said. Their vision right now is on a rebuild, which has to be done by 2025 because the centre must meet new provincial standards by that time. They are looking at whether to retrofit the building or start again.

Vito thinks the answer is to start again because retrofitting will cost far more than building something new. With a VIVA Retirement Community coming to the Legion property, the Stacey Centre is looking at ways they might be able to work together. VIVA is a private entity and will have retirement and some assisted living but as people need more care, they’ll have to switch to a long-term facility.

Right now there are 100 beds and six respite beds at the Stacey Centre. The plan is to go up to 192 beds and try to get 29 respite beds. Since they would only need to increase their staff by 30-50 per cent, the extra funds could go to areas like dementia care and PTSD care. Veterans, first responders and people new to Canada have all seen some hellish things and could use some help, Vito said.

Some of the things that would be nice to have in the rebuild are: a day care, not just for children but also for isolated seniors; a coffee shop, small pharmacy, and hearing or vision clinics; and 10 or 15 units of seniors housing. Vito would love to see a restaurant, too.

They’ve engaged a consultant to help with meetings at the health ministry. Their plan gives them direction to go to financial institutions and government and say “this is what we need,” Vito said. Ultimately, the centre will need about $40 million.

“We have a vision and we’re starting the planning process. We’re getting there, but we still need lots of help. The centre always needs more volunteers, more donations, and it always needs you to remind your politicians that we exist,” Vito said.  “We will make that 2025 deadline.”

If you’d like to help out the Stacey Centre, call 416-284-9235 or visit