The Royal Canadian Legion #260-100 Mile House made a solid presentation, requesting a break on its property taxation, to District of 100 Mile House council at its June 10 meeting.
Legion president Bob Wangensteen noted there is currently no allowance for a potential tax exemption because its property is zoned C-3 Commercial.
While he hopes the District will consider changing its zoning bylaws to allow for full tax exemption for the Legion, such as is applied to several other local non-profit organizations, it was not the focus of the request.
“We are looking for a [partial] tax break, just to help us. The Legion is slowing down and we need to keep the doors open, and keep it open as much as we can.”
While the Legion offers a place where veterans can socialize and buy affordable meals and drinks, Wangensteen stressed it “is not a business.” This is a common misconception, he noted.
“It is a not-for-profit organization and its primary goal is to look after, or serve, veterans and their dependants, both serving and retired.
“On top of that, in our motto, is ‘service’ – and that is service to the community.
“I try to focus on acquiring everything we can locally, from our new cash register to any supplies we can get here.”
The Red Friday campaign is 100 per cent local, as is any event connected to that, he added.
“I have got the Legion now supporting the school meal programs, breakfast and lunch; and we give a large donation to Bridge Lake’s Meals on Wheels, and a donation to its community centre to help that because there are lots of seniors out there.
The Legion also recently donated to the Kukoro Judo Club, Wangensteen said.
“So, seniors and young people are our main goal to help.”
Under the Legion’s bylaws, he noted it can only financially assist other not-for-profit organizations.
“We gave away more than $10,000 in April, and that was all gaming money, that money doesn’t go to the Legion. When the Legion makes a little bit of money, it’s all donated.
“It is dedicated to community service, as well as to our veterans and their dependants.”
The shrinking membership during the past decade of conflict in Afghanistan seems to be due to a lack of desire in those veterans to seek personal help or support, Wangensteen explained.
“They want to be alone and by themselves deal with various problems that they have. We’ve taken it upon ourselves here to put a great deal of support behind the work for PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder].”
Mayor Mitch Campsall said it was a “very strong presentation” that gave the councillors more information to think about all that the Legion #260 does for the community.
“They are a good organization, and they always have been.”
He added staff has been examining the District’s current policies prohibiting property tax breaks under the Legion’s zoning to recommend some changes.
“They’ve requested this before and they have not been granted it.”
However, Campsall said there are a “whole gamut” of more questions and information requests council will have before potentially approving any tax break for the Legion.
“We want to make sure before we start doing anything that we get the policy in place first, but staff has been already working on this for a while.”