The Tsawwassen Legion is scrambling for its existence as it must find a new home.
The Legion is located in Century Square, a commercial complex in the 1800-block of 56th Street, owned by Century Group.
The branch has been around for more than a quarter century and continues to be an active fundraiser for community organizations.
It had a tough go the past several years due to a declining membership and volunteer base. The branch worked hard to keep itself relevant through various means such as hosting different events and activities, advertising its food menu and establishing itself as a music venue.
Now it appears Branch 289 of the Royal Canadian Legion, which acknowledges the rent break it has been getting from Century Group, faces its biggest challenge. as the property management company for the owner notified them when the lease was renewed last summer that it would be the last.
That leaves the Legion now looking for another hopefully affordable location as the clock ticks on the current lease, which expires Aug. 31.
“They’ve been very good to us. We’ve been paying below-market rates since the Legion took over that location, but that time is gone. We don’t know if they have someone else that they want coming into the space, all we know is that we have to find a new place to go to,” said branch president Tanya MacNeill.
Noting they even offered to pay a higher rent, MacNeill said they’ve been at their current location for 27 years, but in this current financial climate, finding affordable commercial rental property is proving to be very difficult.
“We’ve been looking high and low. Right now, our base rate is about $11-a-square-foot, but anything else we’re looking at to move into is not less than $25-a-square-foot. That’s a huge hike for a non-profit to come up with. Then, there’s trying to find a place at the right size. There’s only so many places to move to in South Delta, so it is rough situation for us right now and time is of the essence,” she said.
MacNeill said their ability to continue providing donations will be greatly hampered if they can’t find suitable space to continue with the lounge and gaming portions of their business.
She added it will also be unfortunate if their dedicated patrons and all-volunteer staff lose their social venue.
Simon Griffiths, operations manager for commercial properties for Barbican Property Management, a division of Century Group, confirmed that they gave the Legion a year’s notice their lease would not be renewed.
Noting the original plan was not to have the Legion remain permanently at that location on the discounted rent, Griffiths said things just rolled on year-after-year.
“There’s things that obviously go into anything managing a property or leasing commercial space. After a certain amount of years, it was a business decision to not renew the lease. They’ve been a good tenant over the years and drawn a lot of people to the Square. We did our best to give them enough notice and would work with them helping out towards the end of the lease,” he added.