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Legion moves ahead with sale of Penticton building

FOI-Penticton Legion Lottery Investigation by Joe Fries

Members of the Penticton branch of the Royal Canadian Legion voted this week to seek permission to sell their building.

Branch president Murray Grandy said the group needs approval from the Legion’s B.C. Yukon Command before it can unload its Martin Street property, but stressed that a move is not imminent.

“You can’t just sell a Legion building. There are a lot of hoops, and command have to give their OK and all sorts of things,” Grandy said.

“Hopefully it won’t have to be sold, but it could come to that.”

The branch’s hand could be forced, he explained, if its financial situation takes a turn for the worse. He said the group took out a $100,000 mortgage on the building several years ago and has struggled to keep up with payments in the face of declining membership.

“Things are looking up now,” he added. “We’re getting some young members coming in.”

The Legion’s building, which it shares with another veterans’ group, was assessed at $812,900 in 2012.

Inga Kruse, executive director of B.C. Yukon Command, said the Legion has encouraged its branches to look at all their options to help stay afloat.

“The executive in place at (the Penticton) branch right now is working really hard to rebuild it from both membership and financial perspectives. Part of their overall review is that they have been considering whether this building they are in is suitable or maybe even a good prospect for redevelopment,” she said via email.

“We are encouraging all of our branches to consider their redevelopment options based on their community needs, their current footprint and building usage. I know of at least 30 branches that are looking at all of these factors and making choices about what their location is going to look like in 10 and 20 years’ time.”

Command also issued a press release this week that highlighted a group of seven new, young members at the Penticton branch who have started a social media campaign by posting photos to Instagram and Facebook using the hash tag #savepentictonlegion.

“Like all branches who are very committed to their communities, our folks in Penticton are working hard. They are still under guidance from command, so we are making sure they get lots of support, but in the end, if Penticton wants a Legion, folks need to join and participate,” Kruse said.

The branch was placed under trusteeship in May 2012 when its previous board was removed from office over allegations of non-compliance with Legion bylaws and breaches of its liquor licence, plus issues with financial management and lotteries inventory control.

The Western News filed a freedom of information request with the responsible B.C. government ministry to obtain details of the alleged gaming and liquor infractions. However, the only records provided relate to a January 2012 investigation by the B.C. Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch into the cancellation of $90 worth of lottery tickets by a former bartender, who apparently paid for the tickets with cash from the bar’s float.

 

 

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