Photo: Legion Branch 25
Without a home to call its own, the Vernon branch of the Royal Canadian Legion will have some difficult decisions to make in the new year.
Treasurer Sandra Patterson says one of the executive's first tasks will be to decide whether to close the doors for good.
“That will definitely be one of the things we have to decide in January,” says Patterson.
Legion Branch 25 was forced to move last March from the space it was renting in Eagles Hall when the owners decided to sell the building.
Since then, Legion members have continued to meet and have managed to carry out the annual Remembrance Day poppy campaign despite having their equipment stored in various locations.
They used Patterson's business at Polson Place Mall as a central location.
She says finding a new home has been nearly impossible.
“We used to pay $350 a month in rent at Eagles Hall,” she says. “And we used to have dinners once a month to cover the extras.”
The rental spaces the Legion explored ranged from $1,000 to $2,000, not including utilities or internet.
Game money and poppy funds come with strict spending criteria and cannot be used for rent.
The local Legion's only source of income without strings attached is the rental of its cabin on Lake Gardom. The cabin can only be rented 21 weeks per year and is however only available to Legion members.
Total cabin rental revenue is $8,500 per year, leaving Branch 25 with little operating money and even fewer options.
Patterson has seen Legions in other locations close due to declining membership and a lack of volunteers.
She believes it is time for the younger generation to step forward.
“A veteran is not just a 94-year-old man. There are veterans who were active in Afghanistan… we need to keep alive the memory of these people who defended us and did things that many of us cannot or do not want to do.”
There is a possible lease that may or may not be available for January 1, and Patterson says the executive will have some important decisions in 2024.