Six months after its entire executive was removed from office, the Penticton branch of the Royal Canadian Legion is struggling to get back on its feet.
Members met Monday to elect a new 12-person executive, but the process ground to a halt when no nominees stepped forward to fill the treasurer’s position. The branch does, however, have a new president, vice-president and secretary, and another election is scheduled for Dec. 3.
For now, Branch 40 remains under the trusteeship of Ed Findlater, who was appointed this summer by the Legion’s B.C.-Yukon Command. Findlater, an Okanagan Falls member, was brought in to get the Penticton location’s affairs in order after concerns arose regarding possible financial mismanagement and contraventions of liquor and gaming licences.
“That’s all straightened out,” said Findlater, who will remain in charge until at least Dec. 31.
He said his investigation didn’t turn up evidence of anything untoward, but “things were done not according to the way it’s laid down in the book.”
Findlater thinks his probe, and the events that led up to it, likely caused some members to shy away this week from letting their names stand for election to the executive, particularly the treasurer’s job.
“I think the attitude of being put under trusteeship affected everybody. I think it’s going to take a while to recover.”
He said a representative from provincial command told Monday’s meeting that if an executive isn’t elected, the Legion will close the branch next year and sell the property.
“I hope it’s unlikely,” Findlater said. “I have to be optimistic.”
Inga Kruse, executive director of B.C.-Yukon Command, said for any branch to maintain its Legion charter it has to meet certain conditions, such as having an executive. However, she continued, there are no plans in the works to close the Penticton branch, but rather to get new leaders elected.
“We’re trying to help people step up for those positions.”
Kruse said once a new executive is in place, the branch will stay under trusteeship until command is satisfied it has been stabilized.
“We have put indescribable resources into preserving this branch for Penticton and we’re not just going to walk away,” she said.
“What we’re trying to do right now is engage the population of Penticton to join the branch, because it’s got a new life.”
Murray Grandy, the freshly elected president, said he hopes that new life will bring back old faces.
“If we do get all the officers, I’d love to see some of the old members that left because of things that we’re going on there, I’d love to see them come back and get involved again,” he said.
Grandy served as acting president of the branch in the latter half of 2008, after the president and two vice-presidents — himself included — stepped down briefly to allow provincial command to come in to help clean up its financial affairs.
Since then, he has remained involved with the Legion and felt compelled to let his name stand for president, the position for which he subsequently outpolled rival Corey Van Meeteren.
“I just hate to see the Legion go down if there’s anything I can do to help it,” Grandy said.
The branch on Monday also elected Al McNeil as secretary and Ed Begg as first vice-president, both by acclamation. The executives who were removed from office in May will have to wait until 2015 to run again.