Just in time for Christmas the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 139 in Williams Lake received news about some much-needed financial support from the federal government and the city.
On Tuesday, Dec. 21, the legion learned the Government of Canada is giving them $11,919.22 and the city will adding another $7,500 from the COVID-19 restart funding it received from the provincial government.
“We are thankful,” said legion president Joyce Norberg. “It was a nice surprise because legions have been falling through the cracks.”
Branch 139 vice-president David Brideau, who will become president in January 2021, said a lot of branches across Canada have handed in their charters because they have not been able to keep going the pandemic.
The monthly costs of the legion are about $15,000, but with the limited capacity of 50 people allowed at one time due to COVID-19 restrictions, the legion needs about $10,000 to cover monthly costs, Norberg said, noting the revenue is down considerably so the funding from both governments will come in handy.
“We need to get to May when we will get earnings from our legion campground at Felker Lake,” she said.
More than 60 years ago the legion leased the campsite area from the provincial government and has used the proceeds to help with operations.
Mayor Walt Cobb said even when he was on the legion executive it was difficult because all the money they raised went to the community and so little could be kept for covering expenses.
“Due to COVID the legion cannot do its regular meat draws and other programs they have for raising money,” Cobb said.
Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty noted in a news release while the desperately needed funding is appreciated, it is 10 months into the pandemic and the fact legions had to wait so long, ‘only to receive so little is a disgrace.’
In September, Conservative Shadow Minister for Veteran Affairs John Brassard MP for Barrie-Innisfil, Ont., wrote to Veteran Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay asking for specific financial assistance for Royal Canadian branches, Doherty said.
“Thanks to our efforts and those of veterans’ advocates across the country, the Liberals set aside $20 million for the Royal Canadian Legion and other veterans’ organizations.”