Declining membership combined with a decrease in participation by those who remain has led the Red Deer Royal Canadian Legion executive to move towards selling its large building and property at 2810 Bremner Ave.
The prime location 2.9-acre property, with over 30,000 sq. ft. of space in the building, has just been listed for $7,495,000 with Century 21 Realtor Keith Myrol. The Legion executive made the decision at a recent special meeting.
Legion members will have the ultimate say on the sale as they must approve any offer. As well, the sale must receive approval from the Legion’s Alberta NWT Command.
The plan is to relocate the Legion’s activities to a yet-to-be determined building, about half the size of the current one, Legion president Bev Hanes said Monday.
It was a very difficult decision, she said, but the building is too large for their 1,800 members, many who are not active, and operational deficits are occurring every year now. In its heyday, the Red Deer Legion at its present location, built 40 years ago, had 4,000 members.
Despite the deficits, the Legion does not have any debt because it sold an apartment building in 2007 and has been able to use those funds, Hanes said.
But it is time to look at other operations, she said.
The building is located across the street from Bower Place Shopping Centre. For some time now, the Legion has been leasing out about 25 per cent of the space. Last June a business had to leave midway through a lease agreement, Hanes said.
Elections Canada did lease space during last year’s federal election but they haven’t been able to rent that space since.
Legion members were being informed of the executive’s decision at a regular meeting on Monday evening, Hanes said.
“Most of our veterans are passing away or getting elderly. We’re not getting as many young people in.” Many of the members, in the 80s and some in their 90s, are not able to volunteer like they used to when they were younger.
“You’re fighting so much just to do things for the building and it takes away from our programs and other things we could be doing more for our seniors and our veterans.”
Hanes, who has been a Legion member for 30 years, said she believes most people will think it’s a necessary move. Other Legions have run into similar problems and have moved to smaller locations.
“It’s time to look forward to what we can be in the future with the membership that we have, and still try to do all the programs that we do.”
Historically, Legion membership has been comprised of military and RCMP veterans and their families. The Legion offers various services to veterans and makes donations to community organizations, such as Meals on Wheels and the Red Deer Hospice Society.
The Legion has a canteen that offers meals and drinks, but it also runs Molly B’s Lounge, which is open to the public.