Exclusive: Legacy to Bridgewater from Vancouver real estate magnate Stephen Sander to be announced June 13

by Charles Mandel

LighthouseNOW has learned that the Vancouver real estate magnate Stephen Sander's major legacy donation to the Town of Bridgewater will be announced on June 13.

The Health Services Foundation of the South Shore issued an advisory on June 11 inviting media to a "joint major funding announcement regarding the Health Services Foundation of the South Shore and the Bridgewater Elementary School Playground Committee."

The foundation called it "an important investment in the future of all residents, young and old, in Bridgewater and along the South Shore."

LighthouseNOW was not able to confirm the nature of the donation or its value.

Sander, a former Bridgewater teacher who now heads a billion dollar company on the west coast, originally told LighthouseNOW in an exclusive story in 2017 that "I would like to donate some money...."

In Vancouver, Sander is known for his philanthropy. His company, Hollyburn Properties, has donated two MRIs at a cost of $1-million each to hospitals.

Hollyburn itself is valued at more than $1.5 billion and the family run business currently operates some 85 apartment communities with more than 5,400 suites in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Ottawa.

Bridgewater Junior Senior High School recruited Sander in the early 1960s from England to teach physical education at the school.

He previously told LighthouseNOW reporter Gayle Wilson that his time teaching in Bridgewater was "probably the best start of his life."

He stopped teaching in 1972, going on to found his real estate empire.

Eighteen years later Sander was invited back to Bridgewater to speak at the school's 1990 graduation ceremonies. He was also presented with a key to the town.

In 2016 he named an award-winning high-rise tower his company built after Bridgewater.

In December 2017, LighthouseNOW reported that The Town of Bridgewater (TOB) had been having ongoing discussions with the family of Stephen Sander and his company Hollyburn Properties since October, when he first offered to make a major donation to the municipality.

"I can tell you that we have not yet determined the nature of the donation, but that a MRI has been ruled out," Bridgewater mayor David Mitchell reported in an email from France at the time where he was attending a Michelin Connected Cities Conference.

Back then, the town's communications officer Patrick Hirtle also told LighthouseNOW: "I mean they've got an idea of the community projects that they would like to invest in that they feel would represent Mr. Sander's legacy, and the kinds of things he would like to see in the community."

According to Hirtle, one of the areas they talked about was Generations Active Park, the 18 acres of parkland the town owns off Glen Allan Drive and near the HB Studios Fieldhouse and the off-leash dog park.

He notes that in 2013 a master plan had been developed for the site.

"That's something that we've mentioned to them as one possible option. But I know that there are several on the table that they're looking at," said Hirtle.

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