Plans for the annual Poppy Campaign and Remembrance Day parade and ceremony are well underway but the future of Duncan’s Legion branch are still up in the air. A meeting room packed full of members vociferously told trustee Richard Vandekamp that they want to see Royal Canadian Legion Branch 53 continue. Vandekamp challenged the crowd, saying that he wanted to hear suggestions for ways to save the branch, after its meeting hall on Kenneth Street closed down in July.
"Please be prepared to devote some time to bringing your suggestions to fruition," he warned, saying that the group that is carrying the load at the moment is working at full stretch.
Several ideas were put forward for a new meeting hall, including the Duncan United Church, the 744 Air Cadets Squadron building, the Valley Seniors building, even the meeting room at the apartment building that houses a Legion member.
They all need investigating to ensure that costs, insurance and other issues can be dealt with.
Part of the difficulty was brought up in the presentation of a prospective budget where members learned it was hard to plan when no one knows how many of the 344 Br. 53 members will stay with Duncan and
how many may transfer to Chemainus or Malahat.
What was clear to everyone was that the annual flag raising for the Poppy Campaign will be held Nov. 2 and that Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Duncan cenotaph will take place as usual.
Another aspect that was clarified was that money raised by poppy sales cannot be used for operating the Legion branch.
There was quite a bit of discussion about whether or not to keep the $60 per year dues but in the end the group decided to maintain that figure.
Questions also arose about the need for a kitchen like the one at the now-closed branch on Kenneth Street but member Jack Bateman said, "most of the things we’ve been operating have not been cost effective. The money wasn’t balancing. If it’s going to go on the way it was, it’s not going to work."
Vandekamp agreed, saying that any "bad business management" that occurred over time was in the past.
The thing right now was to decide if members wanted to see their Legion branch continue and what they were willing to step up to do about that, he said.
Further meetings will be held in October and November, with a venue yet to be secured, but beyond that, the future is still unknown.