Carefree renting vs. costly home ownership: When senior living makes sense!

Property assessments were recently mailed out to BC home owners, and many BC residents saw a dramatic jump in value that’s likely to lead to higher property taxes this year. It’s not the only rising cost for home ownership: everything from mortgage rates to groceries to utilities have been affected by inflation.

For seniors on a fixed income, even a small change can have a big impact on the monthly budget. And those costs are inspiring some seniors to consider alternative living arrangements.

“Last year I made the decision to explore senior independent living. I took a tour of Berwick and was impressed with what I saw and could see myself living here,” says Sally Heather. “When we discussed the monthly rates I wasn’t sure if I could afford it. I was given a package outlining all that Berwick provided including a form where I could outline my current expenses and compare them with what I would pay at Berwick. Much to my surprise, I found that what I was currently paying was more than what I would pay at Berwick. I have since been able to save money each month. It was certainly the right decision for me.”

All-inclusive resort-style living

With its stunning architecture, spectacular location, expert staff and plentiful services, you might assume that Berwick is outside the average senior’s budget. But a quick look at the numbers may surprise you.

“When you consider everything that’s included, the monthly rent at Berwick Retirement Communities is actually very affordable,” says Lesley Sikorski, Director, Sales & Marketing at Berwick Retirement Communities.

Remember — once you move into Berwick you’ll no longer have to pay for basic cable, internet, heat and electricity, because they’re all included in your rent. Right now you may have a gym membership or pay for weekly fitness classes, but those are included in your Berwick rent as well. And of course there won’t be any property tax surprises, Strata fees or insurance premiums either.

“For me moving to Berwick was never a consideration. I had always owned my own home and that is what I planned to do when I moved to Berwick. After I investigated the Berwick advantages, I decided I would try it and now it would be difficult for me to consider making a change,” says John Bertagnolli. “At Berwick I have my meals, my housekeeping, my laundry service and most importantly I have found a building full of new friends I can visit with while enjoying the exercise room, the coffee breaks and the many other advantage of retirement living. Berwick has changed my lifestyle – for the better!” 

As we age, many of us hire help for things like house cleaning or landscaping. Some seniors increase their food budget to accommodate pre-made meals, take-out or meal delivery, or start taking taxis to medical appointments. At Berwick all of those things are covered — the Berwick About Town Car can take you to appointments, the Red Seal Chefs prepare nutritious meals seven days a week, and fresh linens are delivered to your suite every week.

“I moved in July into one of the larger two-bedroom, two-bathroom suites. I , too, did the math, and the totals were so close! If I had chosen a smaller suite, I’d be saving even more. And there are so many activities going on that I am sure I’m saving money over those as well,” says Glennis Zilm.

‘Like a cruise ship’

 Take a closer look for yourself! Examine the detailed cost breakdown of all that’s included in your Berwick rent and contact Berwick to get a cost comparison form to do your own number crunching. Click here to access our cost comparison form:18594 Berwick Parksville Insert Sheets – Jan2023 Update

“I moved into Berwick in July 2020. This was done after considerable research and number crunching to convince myself that it was do-able, considering my pension, my savings, the sale of my condo, and the savings of the monthly cost of taxes, utilities and condo fees,” says Norm Woods.

“After two and a half years, I’m convinced that I made the right decision. Independent Living means I’m free to come and go as I wish. I’m still living alone but there are always fellow residents close by to chat and socialize with. The best part: everything in provided in the monthly rent including all meals, utilities, weekly cleaning and laundry service. It’s like living on a cruise ship without being on the water. Granted, the rental costs do increase each year but usually in line with taxes and living costs associated with owning and maintaining one’s own home.”  

Ready to learn more? Staff and residents of Berwick are always happy and proud to show off their home. To book a tour, click on the location you are interested in and fill out our contact form! Follow Berwick on Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates!

News & Press
People of Berwick – Catching up with Berwick Qualicum Beach Executive Chef Joe

#People of Berwick – In the Kitchen with Joe Thomas, Executive Chef Berwick Qualicum Beach

When Joe Thomas moved to the Oceanside Community of Parksville, BC in September 2022, he was looking for a job where he could make a difference. Recognizing his passion for working with older adults and his talent in the kitchen, he was compelled to apply at Berwick Qualicum Beach. In just four short months as Executive Chef, Joe has already had a significant impact on the community, elevating the dining experience for the residents and creating a kitchen culture that is described as creative, fun, motivating, and positive.

Joe’s values of putting the customer first and respect always, have made him an easy fit for the Berwick family.  From the moment he walked into the Berwick kitchen, he instilled an attention-to-detail culture that has not only enhanced the dining experience for residents but created a sense of pride in the team. Britta Newmann, General Manager of Berwick Qualicum Beach says “Joe walks the talk! He follows through on his commitments to the residents, staff, and management team. His sense of humor lightens the most challenging situations.“ His leadership style has allowed the food services team to develop great pride in their work which shows in the plates they are serving. Joes describe his team as “dedicated and fun” and praises their “ability to maintain professionalism and standards in the kitchen at all times.”  

When asked what the most unusual part of working at Berwick Qualicum Beach as Executive Chef is, Joe said “Cooking for the same people every day, twice a day. It keeps you on your toes.” Berwick Qualicum Beach has 113 Residents who enjoy the daily choice a of variety of dining venues with grab-and-go, Bistro, and Dining Room options. Joe stays motivated by continuing to be relevant with culinary trends and implementing as much as possible into what the kitchen team produces at Berwick Qualicum Beach. To date, the Christmas in Paris-themed dinner has been his favourite event to create a menu for, “from the brie and cranberry tart, the Duck Confit, and the crème Brulee for dessert. It was an amazing night.”

These large-scale events come together with teamwork from all departments. It is evident in speaking with the team at Berwick Qualicum Beach that Joe’s leadership shines through at these theme events, not just in the meal creation but in the entire event process. Lyndsey Booth, the Director of Hospitality, says “We work well together; we bounce ideas back and forth and ultimately come up with the best goal for the success of our team. We often laugh and are constantly teaching one another.” Krysta Robins the Community Relations Manager told us “Joe brings energy and passion to the team. His connection and visual presence have created an engaging dining experience for our residents.”

Not only does Joe enjoy creating an elevated food and meal experience each day for the residents, but he also has a passion for coaching, developing, and mentoring his staff as well as building connections with the residents. His fellow chefs in the kitchen say that he “brings a positive attitude, an elevation in food quality, support of his staff’s growth and development,” and that they appreciate the change in the culture he has created, “more of a sense of ease, a fun environment.” Further to the positive impact joe has had on his staff, Sheri says “Joe is often seen in the dining room, talking with residents. He’s always open to feedback and follows through with requests from residents on things they would like to see on the menu.” This has gone a long way in developing a strong sense of trust between food services and the residents.  

When Joe isn’t in the kitchen creating delicious, healthy meals for the lucky residents of Berwick Qualicum Beach you can find him “traveling throughout central and South American or touring our beautiful country in (his) motorhome.” Joe is also a musician playing various instruments and enjoys cliff jumping at some of the many local watering holes on the island. 

Berwick is grateful Joe’s passion and sense of purpose landed him at Berwick Qualicum Beach. His dedication to his craft is evident in everything he does. The future looks bright as Joe expressed his excitement about his next big passion project, releasing Berwick Qualicum Beach’s first wine list and elevated menus for parties in the private dining room. We hope to see you there!



News & Press
Make 2023 a Purposeful and Active Year

It’s hard to believe that a new year is here! This is a great time to set some intentions for yourself on how you would like to live your life. Leading a life with purpose and intention can make you feel more fulfilled, happier and positive. Older adults often feel that they lose a sense of purpose after retirement, but living with purpose does not have to end. Here are some ways that you can find purpose in this stage of life and make 2023 a purposeful and active year. 

1. Eat Well

March is National Nutrition Month, a perfect time to learn about healthy eating habits. Take the steps to make intentional decisions about eating well and fueling your body with a balanced, nutrient-dense diet is critical across the lifespan, helping us feel out best and reduce our risk of chronic diseases. At Berwick, every meal is a social occasion which is why residents and their loved ones look forward to a culinary experience that feels as personal as their own home cooking that also offers & encourages healthy eating habits.


2. Move your body

A body in motion will age better than one on the couch. Consider these tips for exercise as you age. We have so many Berwick fitness classes of all types and levels, from chair yoga to Pilates, Zumba, Barre, Aqua Fit, Tai Chi, Pickleball, Ball Drumming and so much more. We’re constantly amazed at how strong and active the Berwick residents become by participating in the wide variety of our fitness classes. 

3. Meditate

Meditation is the habitual process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts. People also use the practice to develop other beneficial habits and feelings, such as a positive mood and outlook, self-discipline, healthy sleep patterns, and even increased pain tolerance. Science is showing that regular meditation can improve our health as we get older and can show a significant improvement on attention, memory and verbal fluency. Studies also found that meditation can positively impact insomnia, anxiety, and heart health

Mindfulness and meditation are regular programs on our active living and wellness calendars. 

4. Pursue a new hobby

Learning a new language, enrolling in a college course, learning about wine, diving into digital photography, joining a choir group, channeling your inner artist! Whatever interests you, say ‘yes’ to doing something you’ve always wanted to do. If you want to improve your chances of aging well, consider exploring a new hobby. Sign up for that pottery class you’ve always wanted to take. Join a creative writing seminar. Take up photography, knitting or painting, and join a group of fellow artists to improve your social network and to share with others the exhilarating feelings of creating art.

5. Indulge in new experiences

Older adults can learn multiple new skills at the same time in the right environment and with the right beliefs, and doing so may improve their cognitive functioning considerably. We have seen residents come out of their comfort zones, and observe that they feel fearless about new challenges. Berwick’s Active Living Teams heavily focus on providing a variety of ways for residents to indulge in new experiences during regular programming.

Having a purpose in life may help people maintain their function and independence as they age, according to a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry. People in the study who reported having goals and a sense of meaning were less likely to have weak grip strength and slow walking speeds: two signs of declining physical ability and risk factors for disability. Purposeful living has already been linked to other aspects of wellbeing, like a longer life, lower risk of disease, better sleep and healthier behaviors.

What are you waiting for! 

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‘Truly magical.’ New Residents describe their first Christmas at Berwick

For 27 years, Margaret Pilon lived in a small house next to Berwick House in Gordon Head, and whenever the retirement community had a special event, they were sure to invite Pilon and her family. So when Pilon and her daughter Barb decided it was time to downsize, the choice was easy.

“We knew all the staff before we moved in. Tom Goluza, the general manager, is one-of-a-kind. My mum knew him when he was a young boy,” Barb says.

Being only 62, some of Barb’s friends were concerned that she was too young to move into a retirement community, but Barb says she loves it.

“We went to our first Christmas Gala a week ago and I tell you, it was truly magical — that’s the only word I can use to describe it. Mum and I couldn’t believe that this is where we lived.”

Like a tonic

Across town at Berwick Royal Oak, friends Peg and Judy are just three weeks into life at their new home, and loving every second. The pair spent the last year at a different retirement community that left a lot to be desired, and say Berwick is lightyears ahead.

“Moving here has been just like a tonic,” Peg says. “The staff are fabulous. Just so helpful, accommodating and efficient. The people who serve us in the dining room are a group of the nicest young people I’ve ever met. They are just so professional, it’s a dream to sit there and a privilege to have them look after us. Everything they do here is just first class.”

After a dull year at their previous home, Judy says life at Berwick has been uplifting.

“There’s lots of good humour here, and everyone we meet is friendly. They go out of their way to introduce themselves and suggest activities. The choices seem endless!” she says.

Life is always full at Berwick Retirement Communities, and extra joyous during the holiday season. Photo courtesy Berwick Retirement Communities

Life is always full at Berwick Retirement Communities, and extra joyous during the holiday season. Photo courtesy Berwick Retirement Communities

Welcome to the Berwick family

The holiday season can be a lonely time for those missing loved ones, so Berwick staff take extra care to ensure everyone feels welcome.

“In Active Living our role is to bring the joy and spirit of the season to our residents and come together as a festive community through all our small and large events. It feels like a big extended family and we all have a lot of fun together,” says Rachelle Reath, Active Living Manager at Berwick Royal Oak.

Barb, Peg and Judy all mentioned the many events that make spirits bright throughout December, on top of the many daily opportunities to engage inside and outside the Berwick community throughout the year.

  • At Berwick Royal Oak, residents and staff come together for two full days of decorating in the last week of November, while outside at Berwick House, residents watch as staff arrange over 10,000 lights in the Berwick gardens.
  • Live entertainment performs in the Berwick Theatre and dining room by Joyz and the Boyz, Festive Brass Quintet and more.
  • Christmas Craft Fairs feature handcrafted items from residents and staff as well as outside vendors.
  • Outings take place to the Nativity Display at Sidney Church, the Naden Band Christmas Concert, Butchart Gardens’ lights and displays, the Victoria Symphony POPS Christmas concert at the Royal Theatre and more, using the convenient and comfortable Berwick Bus.
  • Residents enjoy casual social events with traditional holiday baking (special family recipes made by staff), mulled wine, Christmas Karaoke and eggnog in the Pub, carol sing-alongs and more.
  • The Berwick “Grandparents” welcomed students from Strawberry Vale Elementary for a visit, with a special appearance from Santa.
  • Chef and cookbook author Denise Marchessault led a holiday French baking demonstration, with tasting of course!
  • Non denominational Christmas Eve services are offered in the Berwick Chapel.

Berwick Retirement Communities are both locally and family owned offering flexible, upscale and affordable senior living options in a caring community.

For more information about Berwick House, contact Maggie Raw at 250-853-5492. For more information about Berwick Royal Oak, contact Kathy McAree at 250 419-4012.

News & Press
Berwick’s Holiday Season Roundup

Here is the Berwick holiday blog roundup post! Because this is the first year since the pandemic that we have been able to welcome family & friends from our community indoors, it feels like the kind of year to pile on the ugly Christmas sweaters, the tree ornaments, the garlands, the sweet treats, and the festive craft ideas. We have seen amazing ideas and creations come out of our communities and want to share that joy with all of you. Special thanks to our amazing team of people who come up with these fun, festive and social activities for the residents of Berwick to enjoy with each other and their loved ones. 

  1. If you’re feeling handy and hungry this holiday season—and who isn’t?—then decorating a gingerbread house might be the perfect project for you. Get inspired by this amazing, award winning ginger bread house created by one of our Berwick Qualicum Beach team members, Leah! “Christmas to me is all about family, and as a family we thrive on being creative together. With my new, found “sense of family” here at Berwick, I felt it was worth tying the two together and creating something truly out of the box! May the Drummond Family proudly present Ginger Berwick!”
  2. Hosting an ugly Christmas sweater party is hip, happening, and hilarious. Residents and team members of Berwick Parksville got into the tacky spirit of pinning the ornament to the sweater this season!
  3. Chef Cindy and her team at thought about if Santa made himself a nightcap, it would taste something like this. Santa’s Spiked Hot Chocolate is creamy homemade hot cocoa spiked with peppermint schnapps, topped with fluffy whipped cream, and crushed peppermint candies. It sure brought lots of cheer to the residents of Berwick by the Sea!
  4. Start the elf races at Berwick Comox Valley! A festive game where you’ll need a deck of cards, dice, the elves, and a toonie for each game. Be forewarned, it gets competitive and the residents and team members of Berwick Comox Valley had a hilarious & jolly good time.
  5. Berwick House hosted it’s annual Winter Wonderland this year after a hiatus, due to the pandemic. Our guests were transported to a beautiful backyard experience of festive displays of holiday lights and décor. They danced under the snow machine, took pictures with Santa, enjoyed hot chocolate and the beautiful voices of the carolers. It was a heart-warming evening with over 150 guests enjoying the traditional sights, sounds, and experiences. Thank you to our amazing Berwick House team who made it all happen!
  6. Christmas wreaths are a classic and easy way to instantly up the ante when it comes to your Holiday trimmings. Residents of Berwick Royal Oak enjoyed a DIY Christmas Wreath class accompanied by mulled wine and Christmas cookies. It doesn’t get much better than that!
  7. “On the first day of Christmas Berwick gave to me…” congratulations to the winners at Berwick on the Park who participated in our 12 Days of Christmas scavenger hunt. We hid a picture of a partridge in a pear tree in the building!
  8. Today’s Christmas door knob hangers are a popular activity during the holiday season! The residents of Berwick on the Lake had a great time personalizing their home’s doors to look wintery and festive. There was also no shortage of giggles…

Looking for more fun Berwick holiday cheer? Visit our Instagram and Facebook page to see what we’ve been up to this December. Click below to learn more about life at Berwick.

News & Press
Berwick Owner, Gordon Denford, Honoured at Victoria Chamber Awards

The Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce’s launch of the Business Hall of Fame came after more than a year of planning and a few pandemic-related delays. The inspirational stories of triumph and accomplishment drew loud applause and even a few tears of joy as the first inductees into the Business Hall of Fame took their place among our region’s pantheon of entrepreneurial excellence.

Berwick Owner, Gordon Denford, was among those recognized. Gordon Denford grew up in England until the age of 13, when he was evacuated to Canada during the Second World War. In 1988, Gordon created the first of a community of senior’s retirement and care residences — Berwick House on Shelbourne Street. 

“The Business Hall of Fame was an idea I had to create a proper avenue to preserve and honour the work of leaders who paved the way for so many businesses to be successful in Greater Victoria,” Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. “We built on that idea with amazing insight from our Chamber Champions and direction from our board. I can’t say enough about the work Chamber staff has done to make this night happen. We’re truly grateful for everyone on the events team, our volunteers and RBC for presenting the event and making the inaugural Business Hall of Fame gala so successful.”

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Brighten Your Spirits with our favourite Berwick Cocktails

Brighten your spirits with a little festive cheer from Berwick this year. Our residents and culinary teams have come up with their favourite cocktails or mocktails served during the holiday season and we wanted to share them with you:

Rudolphs Tispy Spritzer! (With or Without Vodka) – Berwick Comox Valley, Berwick Qualicum Beach

2.5 cups orange juice

2.5 cups cranberry juice

2 cups gingerale, sprite or 7up

2 cups vodka

½ cup maraschino cherry juice

Juice of one large lemon, about ¼ cup

Optional garnish – cranberries or maraschino cherries and rosemary sprigs

Makes approximately 12 servings and can easily be made a mocktail with no vodka😊


Lemon Drop Martini – Berwick by the Sea, Campbell River 

-3 oz. vodka

1.5 oz. limoncello

.5 oz. triple sec

¼ lemon juiced

In a shaker, pour in all of your ingredients. Fill the shaker with a handful of ice and shake for 10 seconds, until the shaker is visibly frosted. Strain into a martini glass and enjoy!


Elderberry Peach Fizz – Berwick by the Sea, Campbell River

For Peach Puree:

1 medium peach, peeled and diced

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp honey

2 tbsp water

For Mocktails:

2 oz pear puree

2 tsp elderberry syrup

12 oz Lime Bubbly

thyme, for garnish (optional)

Make the peach puree. In a small saucepan, heat diced peaches, lemon juice, honey, and water over low heat. Gently simmer until the pieces of peach are softened, about 10 minutes. Add more water if necessary to prevent pear from sticking.  Remove from heat and let cool for at least 20 minutes. Puree in a blender until smooth. Add 2 tsp elderberry syrup and 1 oz peach puree to the bottom of each glass. Stir to combine. Top with bubbly. Stir and garnish with thyme (optional).


Vodka Pomegranate Smash – Berwick on the Lake, Nanaimo BC                                                                          

1 Part Vodka                                                                         

1 Part Maple Syrup                                                         

2 Parts Pomegranate Juice

Float Prosecco

Garnish with fresh pomegranate entrails

Serve over lots of ice ( we froze fresh rosemary in our ice cubes!) 

Remove Alcohol to make the above recipe a delicious mocktail.


Maple Cinnamon Whiskey Sour – Berwick House, Victoria BC

1 ½ ounces(3 tablespoons) Bulleit bourbon or your bourbon of choice

1 ounce(2 tablespoons) fresh lemon juice

2to 4 teaspoons maple syrup, to taste (I like 3 teaspoons, which is the equivalent of ½ ounce or 1 tablespoon)

½ ounce of egg whites 

Pinch of ground cinnamon, optional

Dry shake Egg whites Simple Syrup, Maple Syrup and Lemon Juice. Add Ice to Strainer. 
Shake. Pour Whiskey or Bourbon into Rocks or Martini glass. Pour contents from Shaker into the glass. Add a few pinches of Cinnamon. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.


White Russian – Berwick on the Park, Victoria BC


  • 1 ½ oz vodka (usually Smirnoff)
  • ¾ oz Kahlua
  • ¾ oz heavy cream


  1. Shake ingredients with cracked ice
  2. Strain into a (preferably) chilled “Old-Fashioned” glass

After a couple of these it warms me up for the holidays, that’s for sure!


News & Press
The road to Berwick: Learn what inspired two different Victoria residents to make the move

The day Joyce Hodd planned to move into Independent Living at Berwick House, her husband fell out of bed and had to go to the hospital. He died four days later, and Hodd says she was grateful to have her new community at Berwick during a tumultuous time.

“I could not have been in a better place when this happened. I was surrounded by people who had ‘been there done that.’ I was totally accepted, and befriended by not just the residents but also the staff,” she says. “The staff’s care is so genuine. That really comes through.”

Hodd moved in at age 72. While she acknowledges that it’s hard to leave a home you’ve lived in for decades, she thinks most people would benefit from moving earlier.

“People are waiting too long to come in. It’s really hard to leave your homestead, and downsizing is a formidable chore. But Berwick is an absolutely stress-free environment. You don’t realize how much stress you’re under until you aren’t.”

Before making the move, she added up all of her expenses (rent, utilities, groceries, cleaning and landscaping help, etc) and realized that living at Berwick would be a similar cost — with way more perks. She still loves the food even after three years, and even found a boyfriend.

“That’s something I hadn’t counted on. I was never going to do that again, but then along comes this guy and I can’t stop laughing with him — and he can’t stop laughing with me.”

‘Too busy to get old’

“It’s a cruise ship at dry dock,” says acclaimed artist Graham Scholes, who moved into Berwick Royal Oak  last year. “Living here gives you the time to go out and volunteer in areas you have an interest in, and you don’t have to worry about the blasted house!”

Scholes and his wife lived in a house on Lands End Road until last year, when they noticed that home maintenance was stealing time that he could have spent in his studio. For years their children had been trying to convince the couple to move — their grandson even worked at Berwick for eight years — and they finally made the move in 2021.

“Our family was right,” Scholes says now.

Scholes uses his Berwick suite living room as an art studio, as well as the shared workshop downstairs. He’s currently working on a “parliament of owls” for Heritage Acres where he regularly volunteers. And there are plenty of other facilities and events to enjoy when he’s not working on art.

“There’s motive to get active. We’re surrounded by beautiful walking areas, and I walk about two kilometres every day. That’s so critical — next year I’ll be 90, but I’m too busy to get old!” he says. “There’s not enough days in the week to take it all in. They do a wonderful job, truly.”

Berwick regularly brings in professional musicians and entertainers to perform in the Berwick Theatre, and Scholes also takes advantage of the Berwick Bus to go to the symphony, theatre and other events around town. The Active Living team continuously plans not just outings and events but lectures, courses, wine tastings, fitness, games, culinary demonstrations, and more. Last week residents celebrated Oktoberfest with a Bavarian feast and three accordion players.

“They had people dancing in the halls — as well as you can dance with a cane or a crutch!” he laughs.

News & Press
Berwick Qualicum Beach Residents & Employees Publish Magazine: CULTIVATE

Berwick Retirement Communities location in Qualicum Beach is excited to share their Fall & Winter edition of CULTIVATE, a Lifestyle Magazine. This fall & winter magazine features a selection of holiday inspired poetry, creative writing, shopping tips, book reviews and much more! This publication was resident driven, featuring contributions from over 40 seniors and employees. This inspiring magazine embodies the culture of our community and offers a lens to the talents and interests of the amazing people we have living at Berwick Qualicum Beach.

Click the link below to access the digital version:

News & Press
Berwick Parksville officially open!

Berwick Parksville officially opened its doors yesterday! What a day for a celebration. Thank you to our incredible construction team, Denford Construction, and our wonderfully enthusiastic and supportive Parksville team of employees and residents. This is going to be a one-of-a-kind thriving resort-style community! Over 60% leased and we are preparing to open our doors to scheduled tours starting next Tuesday!
Visit our Facebook Page or Instagram accounts to see photos and videos from the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

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