Former Bridgewater resident, now BC real estate magnate, donates $1.2 million

by Keith Corcoran

  • <p>KEITH CORCORAN PHOTO</p><p>Supporters celebrate the Stephen Sander donations. The contributions were announced Wednesday in Bridgewater.</p>

A local health services charity and a committee overseeing construction of a Bridgewater playground are recipients of Stephen Sander's $1.2 million legacy donation.

The British Columbia real estate magnate, through his company Hollyburn Properties, is giving most of the money, $1 million, to the Health Services Foundation of the South Shore. The money goes toward renovating existing operation room space and establishing a minimally invasive surgical suite at the Bridgewater hospital.

Work on the project is expected to start this fall.

The remaining Sanders' donation goes to the Bridgewater Elementary School Playground Committee to finish the first phase of building a York Street play area that will include traditional equipment and painted games. Construction begins once the school year ends.

The financial contributions were announced June 13 in Bridgewater.

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 has donated two MRIs at a cost of $1-million each to hospitals. Sander's company 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 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 Bridgewater had been having ongoing discussions with Sander's family and company since October, when he first offered to make a major donation.

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