CARSTAIRS — Members of the Royal Canadian Legion Carstairs Branch No. 53 have been making the most of the hall shutdown during the COVID-19 pandemic to undertake maintenance and upgrade projects, says second-term president Mark Moncur.
While the local legion hall, located at 121 – 10 Avenue North, was closed to the public starting on March 16, volunteers worked on several projects over the ensuing months.
“The shutdown has given us some time to do some building upgrades and maintenance,” he said. “We’ve done things like replacing one of the furnaces and a hot water tank and a water softener. And we’ve rebuilt some of the kitchen.
“We’ve also had a chance to send out requests for more volunteers to help out. Fortunately, we have also been getting some new members, both military and civilian.”
Branch No. 53 currently has about 190 members.
Although the hall has been closed for several months, he says there is no concern about finances at this time.
“Everything in our legion is run by volunteers, and in a way that has been a good thing because we’ve been able to maintain an economic advantage,” he said. “It’s all run by volunteers and consequently we will be OK.
“We will ride this out. I’m not too worried about having to borrow money or do anything like that. Economically, we are in a pretty good position.”
The branch has enough reserves in place to cover upkeep costs such as heating, electricity and water, he said.
“We’ve had a very good executive over the years that has been fairly frugal and careful with the money,” he said.
“And we’ve got long-term members who have really stepped up.”
As for reopening the hall, Moncur says the situation is being monitored and a decision will be made when the time is safe.
“A lot of our members are older and we don’t want to expose them to anything,” he said. “I really don’t want to rush everybody back.
“We’ve got to take care. With the rules and regulations right now, it’s a little difficult to expect members to clean and sanitize tables every time someone sits down.
“We will review it every couple of weeks to see how we are doing and see how everyone else is doing.”
He said he hopes the hall will be reopened in time for Remembrance Day, if not earlier.
“We would celebrate Remembrance Day regardless,” he said. “I don’t know what is going to happen with a second wave in Alberta, if it ever does happen.
“We will send out a newsletter every couple of weeks to keep everybody informed.”
Prior to the pandemic, the branch ran regular bingos, card games and other activities — things he says there is every intention of bringing back post-pandemic.
Moncur is a Canadian Army veteran, having served with the Essex and Kent Scottish Infantry Regiment for 11 years.
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