Red Deer Legion prepares to downsize

Sale of legion building almost complete

Red Deer Legion is saying goodbye to most of its historical and military collection in preparation for downsizing to a reduced space at its existing location.

The Legion is nearing the end of a two-year process to sell its 30,000 square-foot building and property at 2810 Bremner Ave. It will lease back about 10,000 square feet to house the Legion.

Members have already voted to sell the building and on May 28 a final, crucial vote will be held, said Legion president Bev Hanes.

“We’re actually staying here. We’ll have the canteen, games room and kitchen,” Hanes said Thursday.

The door to the Legion will be moved to the north side of the building by the parking lot. Offices will relocated near the recreation space.

Molly B’s Lounge, which is run by the Legion and is open to the public, will not be part of the Legion in the future.

“We’ll be doing our best to keep on doing what we’ve been doing, but on a smaller scale. Instead of getting 200 people in here, we’ll may be able to handle 100,” said past Legion president Owen Lowe.

Legion executive decided to sell the building and three acres of land because of declining membership combined with a decrease in participation.

The Legion has been leasing out about 25 per cent of its space.

“When we originally moved into this building in 1981 we had over 4,500 members,” Lowe said.

At that time membership was expected to grow to about 6,000. Instead there was a gradual decline, he said.

Membership now sits at about 1,326.

Lowe said staying in the same building will allow members and community users to stay in their comfort zone.

Last week, framed photos, plaques, uniforms, books, and military memorabilia stored around the site started to be moved into the Legion’s old banquet site in preparation to sell or give most of it away.

“I would say 90 per cent of these items have to find a new home. There will be very few we’ll have room for. Storage costs a lot of money,” Hanes said.

Red Deer Museum and Archives and the city’s culture department will have first crack at the items.

“We’re hoping to find the best home for our collections. There’s been a war veterans’ club, or organization, in Red Deer for over 100 years. Somethings here could date back to those times.”

An invitation will also go out to The Military Museums in Calgary and private collectors.

“Most of it’s of historical value that you can’t really put dollars and cents on.

“We’re hoping the Red Deer Memorial Centre will be the home for the items out on the lawn. We’re working on that right now.”

That was the site of the A-20 Advanced Training Centre Royal Canadian Army Corps Service during the Second World War, she said.

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