Greater Victoria’s last standing legion saved from closing

Greater Victoria’s last standing legion saved from closing

Legions aren’t just your usual watering hole. They’re gathering places, a dance floor, and anyone is welcome.

But one of Greater Victoria’s last standing legion is facing possible closure.

“The tax bill becomes so onerous that we can’t generate that kind of revenue, we just can’t,” said Angus Stanfield, Vice President of the Royal Canadian Legion.

The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 292’s property tax went up more than $30,000 from 2018-2019. And it wasn’t something the legion had budgeted for.

“If something like this didn’t happen we would have to look at moving,” said Stanfield.

To keep the not-for-profit from shutting down, the city of Victoria offered the legion a one-time grant to cover the $30,000 difference.

“I’m pleased with what the council decided this morning, we’ve got a bit of relief,” said Stanfield.

City council’s next move? To take the issue to the province.

“This is a situation which is reflective of many legions across the province,” said Victoria Coun. Marianne Alto, who brought forward the original motion to council.

Currently, how legion’s properties are taxed across the province, is inconsistent. The exemptions are decided from municipality to municipality, but Victoria’s council is hoping for a province-wide policy. And it wouldn’t be the first.

The province of Saskatchewan has never charged legions there a property tax, two provinces in the Maritimes exempt legions from property tax, and Ontario is currently considering full tax relief.

But some councillors say a total provincial tax exemption may go too far, especially considering some legions may actually be able to turn a profit.

“I can’t imagine that every single legion operates in the exact same way. They do have some local authority,” said Victoria Coun. Geoff Young.

“I’m not clear the same level of exemption should be given everywhere.”

But the legion says that’s not entirely the case.

“There’s one legion, and the rules are tight,” said Stanfield.

“To think that there would be any branch sitting on a large pot of money, it doesn’t happen, and it can’t happen.”

The local Royal Canadian Legion Branch 292 also has an application for future tax exemptions at the municipal level, which will go in front of council in early September.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!