Royal Canadian Legion Branch 21 has a new, bigger home in Langley City.
The branch has moved into 2100 sq. ft. premises, a former thrift store at 20604 Logan Avenue in the Highland village shopping centre behind the Scotiabank branch in the city.
Branch 21 made the move late last month from a 1200 sq. ft. temporary donated space just around the corner on 56 Avenue.
“We’re still unpacking,” said Heather Eriksen, the branch secretary-manager.
The previous tenants left the space in good shape, requiring nothing more than a fresh coat of paint, Eriksen said.
“It was immaculate.”
The new location has disabled access and a working kitchen.
There is now room for the glass “wall of veterans” memorial which had to be put in storage because there simply wasn’t enough room.
The memorial was leaning against a wall, waiting to be installed, when a Times reporter visited the premises.
Another of the items expected to come out of storage is the cenotaph that used to stand outside the former two-storey home of the branch at 20570 56 Ave.
Once the branch is settled in its new location, Eriksen said there are plans to rent out the spacious meeting room in the back to local non-profits,.
The space is also big enough to support a pub for Legion members at some point down the road.
“We hope so,” Eriksen said, but she stressed that point is a long way off.
It depends on several factors, including the financial health of the branch, re-qualifying for a liquor licence and replacing all of the pub equipment that was sold off after the 90-year-old branch was forced to lay off employees and close the second-floor lounge in September of 2015.
Then-president Shirley Blair blamed a combination of dwindling membership and “financial challenges (that) have made it impossible to operate as we had been.”
The branch had been under “probationary management” for several years, a situation where the regional command exercises more supervision than usual.
An attempt to save money by relocating the legion from its former home on nearby Eastleigh Crescent to the smaller 56 Ave. location in 2010 appeared to have the opposite effect.
The Legion had planned to spend between $400,000 and $700,000 on renovations and upgrading to its new property, but it turned out that the building they purchased needed more than $1 million in improvements, more than they’d paid for the property itself.
According to one estimate, of the Legion’s 800 members, only about 50 are active.
The Legion branch in Aldergrove has also had difficulties.
In February, it was temporarily closed for a month by the B.C. and Yukon (BC&Y) Command, the reopened under trusteeship.
Shelley Coburn, manager of branch advisory operations for BC&Y Command, said the trusteeship will remain in place for two years and the bar’s schedule has been trimmed back.