The Comox legion on Comox Road. (Troy Landreville, Vista Radio)
Legions across the North Island and Sunshine Coast are getting a financial shot in the arm from the federal government.
The $20 million aid package to help veteran organizations get through the pandemic, and can cover a range of expenses including insurance, utilities, rent or mortgage, property tax, administration costs and wages.
Funds coming to nine legions in her riding is welcome news for North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney.
Blaney, who is also the NDP Critic for Veterans Affairs, says she raised concerns with Veterans Affairs Minister Laurence MacAulay back in May of 2020.
That’s when she started hearing that some Legions’ traditional revenue sources, such as rentals, social events and fundraisers, had completely stopped and that they could be at risk of closure.
“Especially in our smaller and more remote communities, Legions are a critical institution and social hub, not just for veterans, but for everyone,” said Blaney.
Legions like Branch 281 in Port McNeill found themselves cancelling their Wi-Fi, lowering the heat, and unplugging appliances in order to reduce costs and stay afloat.
Branch 198 in Alert Bay has been closed since November when a second instance of COVID 19 was confirmed in the small island community.
Blaney says that for them, the funds will ensure they are able to open their doors again when it’s safe to do so.
Branch 160 Comox President Lynn Edey stated “This will help us continue our mission in Comox and we are very pleased that we are able to stay open during these unusual times.”
“The biggest thing is it will help keep the Legion a viable presence in our community,” said Branch 281 Port McNeill President Grant Anderson.
Funds are going to the following legions:
RCL #147 Sayward – $6,000
RCL #154 Quadra Island – $3,000
RCL #160 Comox – $10,000
RCL #164 Powell River – $11,919
RCL #180 Port Alice – $11,919
RCL #198 Alert Bay – $10,000
RCL #237 Port Hardy – $10,000
RCL #270 Gold River – $11,248
RCL #281 Port McNeill – $6,834