Papers have finally been signed, thus marking the dawning of a new day for the Red Deer branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.
Legion Branch #35 has been going through the motions of selling its large property at the corner of Bremner Avenue and Molly Banister Drive for more than two years.
The Legion will actually be staying in the building, but it will be cutting down its floor space from 30,000 sq.ft to approximately one-third of that. The “move” has long been necessary with dwindling membership numbers. Once at 4000 members in Red Deer, the Legion now has just over 1300.
Legion President Bev Hanes feels it represents a sad state of affairs for community service clubs.
"It's really sad to see them all falling by the wayside. They're the ones that put in a lot of family amenities, like playgrounds. The Legion helped start the Symphony through fundraising, and The Golden Circle. Now when you need something like the new sports centres, they just get federal money,” says a hopeful Hanes.
“Somebody said to me a while ago, ‘We're not a community (anymore), we're a city,’ but what's a city without community?”
The occasion is actually bittersweet as it comes with an opportunity for revitalization, Hanes says.
“Hopefully once everything gets back up, we can have a little bit more emphasis on things we can do for veterans in the community. Right now it’s so much on the building,” she points out.
“Quite a few people are excited about it. They’re expecting that when we get back up and running, it’ll be nice and put a little bit more life back into it. This carpet is from 1991 and the carpet in the office is from ‘81.”
The buyer remains unnamed and it's unknown what type of businesses will fill the building's remaining space.
In addition, Hanes notes the Legion is looking forward to hearing more about a proposal from Hinton MLA Eric Rosendahl to exempt Legions from paying property taxes. Red Deer Legion pays $57,000 a year, she says.
Consultations with Legions and municipalities are expected to take place this summer ahead of further debate on Bill 207, which was introduced in the Legislature last month.
The Red Deer Legion is holding a garage sale this Friday from 10-4 to try and get rid of the remaining items it had in storage. Further updates will be posted to its Facebook page.
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