By Ken Alexander
100 Mile House Free Press
The building, which has housed the local Legion on Alder Avenue in 100 Mile House for 50 years, had its doors locked for the last time by Legion president Bob Wangensteen.
On Aug. 1, Wangensteen said The Royal Canadian Legion, Branch #260-100 Mile House will carry on in one form or another. He added they will continue providing services to area veterans.
“We’re not losing the Legion. The building is just shut down due to our financial situation.”
In a front page story in the July 16 edition of the 100 Mile House Free Press, Wangensteen explained the Legion was out of money and just couldn’t pay its bills, so it would be better to put a lock on the doors instead of accruing another month of bills.
“Everything is so old; you can’t get parts for anything; and no one remembers how it was done. Every time something breaks and it’s a major part, and it costs around $3,000 to $10,000 to fix it.”
At that time, Wangensteen said he was waiting to hear back from the Legion BC/Yukon Command (LBCYC) about sending someone to 100 Mile House to look over the financial statements to see if there was something that could be done to rescue the local Legion.
However, he added there had been communication problems.
Wangensteen said they received a visit from a LBCYC financial officer a few days after the article hit the streets.
“He went through our financial statements and said we were doing what we had to do by closing the doors. He added the building was just wore out.”
He said it was the right move and then asked if anybody had any ideas, the Legion president said, adding the officer explained the building is closed, but said we’re not going to lose the Legion.
Noting he felt the Legion building is a “white elephant,” Wangensteen said he told the financial officer he thought the executive had to get rid of it.
He suggested tearing the building down and then constructing a new one that goes the length of the property and put about six or eight housing units in the back for veterans and seniors, and then have a small Legion up front.
“There is nothing else in the Cariboo for veterans’ housing and having the units filled would support the Legion operation, but you have to have money to do that.”
Wangensteen said the financial officer liked it and said he was going to take it back to the LBCYC.
“I would be out of line to say it would solve the problem, but it would make a big difference if we get the help.
“Veterans’ housing is very important. We had brought it up with Command before, but it this kind of stuff takes time.
“Command doesn’t want to lose this Legion either, but they’re not going to dump money into a bottomless pit either.”
Wangensteen said there is a lot of money available for veterans’ housing.
“You could draw on the Dominion Command’s Poppy Fund and that would give us a percentage and this fellow said he would help us with grants. The money from Command would give us our 50 per cent of the costs and allow us to apply for other grants, which, in turn, would give us some money to build the building.”
Now, he added, the local Legion executive has to wait to hear back from the LBCYC to see what direction they’re going to head going forward.
Meanwhile, Wangensteen said the Legion will be still be running whether it’s through somebody’s house or “whatever it is.”
“We’ll still do Remembrance Day, take care of Legion business to help the veterans, and that kind of stuff.
“We will still be able to sponsor the 2887 Rocky Mountain Rangers Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps. As long as we’re here the Cadets are here; we may not have as much money as we gave them, but we will still be their sponsor.”