The Sechelt Legion will explore creating senior and veterans housing in order to keep its doors open, said Paul Lith, chair of the finance committee for Sechelt Legion Branch No. 140.
In September, Lith announced the Legion would likely fold in two years if new revenue streams were not found, saying a $60,000 deficit was expected by the end of the year.
A few options to stay afloat were proposed and a meeting of Legion members in October helped solidify a course of action.
“Our next step is to send out letters of intent to all interested parties, local developers and local consultants to wait to see what they can propose,” Lith said this week. “We’re letting them know our situation and what kind of ideas we have to see what they can come up with in terms of ideas.”
The Legion is working with a coordinator in the provincial command centre while exploring the new housing option.
“He specializes in these kinds of projects and has done them for a variety of branches, not just in the province, but throughout Canada because our problem is not unique,” Lith said.
In order to accommodate the housing, the Legion would have to shrink in size to make room on the lot.
“We’re looking at a much smaller square footage as far as the branch itself is concerned. We’re looking at moving from an existing 9,000 square feet to anywhere around 4,000 to 6,000 square feet. I think that kind of decision will be made in the next couple of months,” Lith said.
In order to finance the project, Lith said the Legion has $100,000 that can be used only for veterans’ housing and money that can be leveraged from their property.
“Right now we’re in a situation where we’re real estate rich, but cash poor … so we want to turn that around,” he said.
The story Coast Reporter ran in September about the Legion’s woes got the community out to the Legion and helped increase sales at the restaurant and bar for a time, but the increased traffic has now subsided, Lith said.
He hopes the community will think about the local Legion when booking Christmas parties and events in the coming months, and he’s appealing to givers with “deep pockets” to step up and invest in the service organization.
“Over the years this branch alone has donated over $1 million to various charities, so I would like some charitable giving to take place from somebody in the community who is looking to help out because we clearly need the help,” Lith said.
If you would like to give or want to book an event at the Legion, drop by the branch at 5591 Wharf Rd. in Sechelt or give them a call at 604-885-2526.