Grand Forks city council passed a resolution on June 24 to support the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 59’s application to the BC Liquor Control Board to add a 297 square metre (3,200 square feet), fenced in, outdoor area to its premises.
“We’re looking at an outdoor area for playing horse shoes,” local legion vice-president and chaplin Ken Gresley-Jones said. “It would be all fenced. The idea is that when we do have an outdoor function, such as a barbecue, that people would be able to sit outside with a drink. Right now, they can go into the lounge to have a drink but they can’t take it outside.”
The proposed outdoor area is just part of the facelift that the legion is receiving Gresley-Jones said, adding that both bathrooms had been redone and the kitchen was being remodelled as well, with an island and a commercial dishwasher.
Changes in BC liquor laws and demographic changes have made the local legion look to non-traditional sources of income, he said.
“The lounge used to be our primary source of income. This past year, the Sunday dinners have been very successful, excellent meals at a reasonable price and dancing after. That has been our main source of income of late,” Gresley-Jones said.
It would be nice if the legion could expand its membership, he added.
“I’m hoping we can draw in some younger people, people of all ages. We are always looking for members and the qualifications for joining the legion now are much more relaxed than they used to be. Even without any military background, if you believe in the principles of the Canadian Legion, you can join. It’s a quiet, friendly place,” he said.
According to Grand Forks Mayor Brian Taylor, the changes that council voted to support should help improve the legion’s situation.
“People have been very frustrated at the legion that they haven’t been able to generate funds for their own survival,” Taylor said. “And yet at the same time they are being expected to contribute tens of thousands of dollars in charitable contributions to the community.”
In its resolution, council stated that the number of patrons allowed at the legion would not be increased from 185, and that the residents surrounding the legion property had all been notified of the application and had been advised that they could address council at the June 24 meeting if they had concerns.
In the resolution, council further stated that the city had determined that any increase in traffic or noise from the outdoor expansion would remain within limits deemed standard for that area of the city.
Taylor indicated that the process for expansion undertaken by the legion would be a lengthy one, as the rules set out by the liquor control branch are quite detailed.
No residents came before council to comment on the expansion, and indeed Taylor said that there appeared to be a fair amount of support for the legion’s plans.
“People seem to be wishing them well,” Taylor said.