After more than 90 years serving the community, Langley Legion Branch 21 is closing its doors for good.
In a Facebook post announcing the closure, the Legion said that it was under trusteeship and thanked all members, both past and present, for their support over the years.
Current members will still maintain their membership with the Royal Canadian Legion.
“It’s a horribly sad circumstance, but the (Langley) Legion is no longer able to generate the revenue to keep the branch going,” said Dave Whittier, the executive director of The Royal Canadian Legion, BC Yukon Command.
In July of last year, the branch moved into 2100 square foot premises, a former thrift store at 20604 Logan Ave. in the Highland village shopping centre behind the Scotiabank branch in the city.
At the time, it was considered an encouraging sign that the branch was recovering from financial woes that saw it lose its new home.
The branch lost money moving from its former home on Eastleigh Crescent to a smaller 56 Avenue location in 2010 .
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.
While the branch has raised as much as $100,000 by selling poppies for Remembrance Day, the donations cannot be used to run the branch. That funding comes solely from membership fees and fundraisers.
It wasn’t immediately clear how the shutdown will affect this year’s Remembrance Day ceremony and poppy sale.
“It’s one of the items of discussion between the branch and the trustees,” Whittier said, adding it was hoped the sale and the event would go ahead as usual.
In a letter to Langley Legion members, the regional command said it had no choice after a meeting with members in April failed to find a solution to the financial woes of the branch.
“There didn’t seem to be a decision made on a way forward and with the operating account almost at zero we have no choice but to exercise our authority under Article 505 of The General By-laws and re-instate Trustees at your branch with the intention of winding down your operations and surrendering your charter,” the letter stated.
The letter advises that the powers and bylaws of Branch 21 have been suspended and so have the “elected executive and all members holding appointments.”
Bill Higdon, Deputy Zone Commander of the Fraser Valley Zone and Sandy Wight, Zone Commander of New Westminster and District Zone have been appointed as trustees “for a three month period to settle the affairs of the branch.”
The trustees will manage the wind down of the branch operations, sell off assets and will not be required to seek ratification from the general membership,” the letter said.
“It is with deep sadness that we take this step.
“Your successful poppy campaign has helped many veterans and your branch has done much good work in the Langley community.”
— With files from Dan Ferguson