Elks gather to mark milestone

The Penticton Elks are preparing for a celebration that’s been 90 years in the making.

Don Kidd

Don Kidd

The Penticton Elks are preparing for a celebration that’s been 90 years in the making.

Penticton will play host to the B.C. Elks Association’s 83rd Annual Conference from May 27-29. Along with several executive meetings over the course of the weekend, the conference will also celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Penticton Elks, with a “Roaring ‘20s” themed dinner and dance, a president’s ball, and a barbecue.

The Elks Association’s main priority is to promote and support community needs across Canada, which include hospital and building projects, sports groups, playgrounds and community centres. The Elks’ mission statement is to be the most progressive, family-focused organization in Canada, meeting community and member needs and expectations through the volunteer efforts of local lodges.

In B.C., the association runs the Elks Recreation Children’s Camp Society, created to provide camping facilities for children who might not otherwise have opportunities for a camping or holiday experience, and the B.C. Family Hearing Resource Society, the most extensive agency in the province assisting the families of children from birth to age five who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech and language learning challenges.

In the past year, the Penticton Elks have experienced a financial setback with the implementation of a new tax after a history of being exempt, as well as the opening of a government-run bingo hall, which essentially killed the local Elks bingo business as a form of revenue, forcing them to rely primarily upon grants to fund their charitable operations.

“Not only have we been feeling the pinch, but other non-profits as well,” said Don Kidd, chairman of the conference and strategic planning, and judiciary committees for the Penticton Elks.

Despite the budget cut, the association has still managed to raise a total of about $30,000 this year, which has been entirely placed back into the local community.

The B.C. Elks Association has grown close to 2,400 members across the province, and out of the 47 lodges, the Penticton Elks Club is the largest with 274 members, the fourth largest in all of Canada, with the greatest number of female members.

The conference is being reduced from the customary four days to just two days to cut costs, encouraging more members to come out for the weekend.

“We realized that we could get the same amount of stuff done in two days then in four. In the past, two days were wasted,” said Kidd, who is anticipating a turnout of about 200 members.