Renovations at the West Shore’s Royal Canadian Legion Branch 91 are well underway, but a combination of delays and cost increases have made it a frustrating process for the team of volunteers trying to bring their bold vision for the branch into reality.
President Norm Scott said the project is going as smoothly as it can in the current climate of labour and supply shortages, but changes to the original vision have had to be made.
“Things are starting to happen, we are starting to see some change on the building. There is some new fascia board being put up in the next few days, so that will change the look of the front of the building,” said Scott. “Slowly but surely it is happening, but the new costs are depressing. I just want it done, simple as that.”
While things like the building’s expansion out back and the opening up of the layout inside are moving along, other elements of the original plan have had to be removed from the project in order to keep it on budget. Scott said the plans originally called for a small second-floor section to be added to the building to accommodate a few offices, but that had to be eliminated as costs increased elsewhere.
“The Legion is not rich by any means, we have a certain budget we have to keep to, to keep it in line with what we can afford to pay monthly.”
Key upgrades like a larger kitchen, bar, and restaurant area, a full building fire sprinkler system, and asbestos removal are still going ahead, however.
“No matter what, it will be a fresh, new Legion. It won’t be everything we want, but it will be something better.”
During renovations, the Legion branch has had to move into temporary locations which has greatly affected what they are able to provide to their members. Scott and the branch management has had to move into shipping container offices behind the branch building, while the Goldstream Masonic Hall has been rented out to provide space for the poppy campaign and for monthly meetings.
“It’s frustrating we can’t operate as we normally do … but we are very thankful for the community for helping us do what we can in the meantime,” said Scott. “A lot of our Legion members see the branch as their home, their social life. It hurts we can’t supply that, but they know what the best is for the future of the branch. We have been bringing them out to other branches for meat draws and that sort of thing over the summer.”
Despite the challenges, Scott said he is still hopeful renovations will be complete by March to allow the branch to reopen and resume all of its services.