While it doesn’t make a big impact locally, a Royal Canadian Legion Branch 25 official appreciates an Ontario government decision to exempt all Legion branches in the province from property taxes beginning in 2019.
Premier Doug Ford’s government anticipates tabling legislation soon.
“It’s good news for a lot of other Legion branches. The City of Sault Ste. Marie graciously gave us a property tax exemption. We’ve had that exemption for about 15 years,” said Ernie Bremner, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 25 1st vice president, speaking to SooToday.
“For other Legion branches it’s a little windfall for them, and I think it’s fabulous the province is going to pick that cost up, but I’ve got to give kudos to our city for allowing us to do this.”
“Other Legion branches are struggling financially with decreased membership,” Bremner said.
Royal Canadian Legion Branch 25 membership is currently at about 600.
Membership was at 3,000 when the local Legion’s building, at 96 Great Northern Road, was constructed in 1967.
Branch 25 itself, which celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2018, is not closing, but its members are looking at a different location to meet.
The municipal government’s agreement to exempt Royal Canadian Legion Branch 25 from property taxes is renewed every 10 years, Bremner said.
Bremner did not have an estimate as to how much money the perk saves the local Legion branch.
“We don’t get an estimate of how much our taxes would be. They just waive it and we don’t even see it.”
"Legion halls play a vital role in communities across Ontario, for veterans and their families, and we want to make sure they can continue to provide services for years to come," said Premier Doug Ford in a statement issued Nov. 5.
"Our veterans have paid their fair share to Ontario and to Canada. We remain committed to ensuring Legion halls in Ontario pay no property tax. It is the least we can do to recognize and honour the service and sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform."
“That was a campaign promise that our premier made while we were on the campaign trail. It was recognized that (property taxes on Legion branches) made it very difficult for our veterans to be able to take care of one another, and the cost within a number of the Legions to maintain those locations, with property taxes being what they are, was a difficult cost for them to bear,” Sault MPP Ross Romano told SooToday.
“This allows more Legion funds to be used for things that matter, for those funds to be used for veterans services. Promise made and a promise kept,” Romano said.