Volunteers work on a past year’s poppy fund activities at the Trafalgar/Pro Patria Legion on Gorge Road in Victoria. The provincial government announced $1.5 million in one-time funding for B.C. and Yukon legions on June 2 to help them stay open through the remainder of the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)

Volunteers work on a past year’s poppy fund activities at the Trafalgar/Pro Patria Legion on Gorge Road in Victoria. The provincial government announced $1.5 million in one-time funding for B.C. and Yukon legions on June 2 to help them stay open through the remainder of the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)

B.C. government announces $1.5 million in pandemic relief for struggling Legion branches

Property tax exemption is what Legions really need, Victoria branch president says

The province announced $1.5 million in one-time funding for B.C. and Yukon branches of the Royal Canadian Legion on Wednesday as many fight to keep their doors open.

Established in 1925, the non-profit Legion supports veterans across Canada, but in the last year they’ve struggled to do so. For much of the pandemic, branches have had to keep their doors closed and, when they have been allowed to open to some degree, members have been too worried about the virus to go.

Traditional revenue sources for the Legion have also dried up. Victoria’s Trafalgar/Pro Patria branch on Gorge Road usually relies on fundraising events, room rentals, gaming money and its catering service to support its approximately 1,300 members. Now, much of that isn’t possible.

“It’s been a scramble,” branch president Patti Stockton said. “We’ve had to pivot a lot.”

READ ALSO: Honouring veterans in a pandemic: COVID-19 put Legions at risk of closure

So, Wednesday’s announcement is a welcome one. Stockton said each Legion branch affected expects to receive between $5,000 and $10,000. According to the government, it is intended to mirror grants of $2,000 to $20,000 provided to hospitality, fitness and accommodation businesses during the most recent “circuit breaker.”

“It will certainly help for the operations,” Stockton said.

A bigger problem for the Trafalgar/Pro Patria branch is property taxes. The expected funding boost will barely scratch the $92,000 Stockton said they owe the City of Victoria this year.

In B.C., it’s up to municipalities to determine if and how much they tax local Legion branches. Stockton would like to see the government follow other provinces, such as Saskatchewan and Ontario, in implementing a blanket tax exemption. That, she said, would help their branch far more than Wednesday’s funding announcement.

Until then, Trafalgar/Pro Patria is getting creative with takeout lunches and frozen meals, which Stockton said are increasingly popular in the community. And, with restrictions scheduled to lift, the branch will slowly begin to reopen.

Stockton hopes that as it does more people will come out. You don’t have to be a veteran or veteran’s family member to join, she said. It’s a safe, fun space for playing games, meeting new people and the occasional line dance.

“We’d love to see more members and more people supporting our veterans.”

Provincially, the 143 Legion branches raise more than $2.5 million for veterans and their families with the annual poppy campaign. They also raise money at other times of year, for distribution in their local communities.

Val MacGregor, president of the BC/Yukon Command of the Royal Canadian Legion voiced gratitude for the province’s financial help.

“We are thankful to Premier Horgan and the B.C. government’s commitment to honour and remember our veterans and their families by supporting the sustainability of our entirely volunteer-led branches,” she said in a release.

“As June 6, the annual date when we remember D-Day and the invasion of Normandy approaches, our 47,000 members in BC and Yukon are especially encouraged that we can continue our mission.”

Find a Legion branch near you, and more information at legionbcyukon.ca/branches/find-a-legion-branch.

READ ALSO: Langford Legion president concerned about city’s planned park development


Do you have a story tip? Email: jane.skrypnek@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

Greater VictoriaRoyal Canadian LegionVeterans

Just Posted

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce will host the Valley Wide Business Expo May 4 at Predator Ridge Resort. (photo submitted)
Golf raffle helps Okanagan families score homes

Habitat for Humanity Okanagan swinging into action this summer with a new raffle

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control in Electoral Area D starting next year

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read