Maple Ridge Legion mulls sale of apartment tower

Jim MacDonald, president of Maple Ridge branch No. 88 of the Royal Canadian Legion, stands outside the Legion Towers along 224th Street. - Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS
Jim MacDonald, president of Maple Ridge branch No. 88 of the Royal Canadian Legion, stands outside the Legion Towers along 224th Street.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS

The Maple Ridge branch of the Royal Canadian Legion is considering selling off its 89-unit high rise seniors home on 224th Street, in part to pay for renovations to its other properties, something residents in the tower are not pleased about.

The local Legion is one of the largest branches in Canada, with close to 2,500 members. The Legion also has one of the largest housing portfolios of any branch in the country, operating six facilities in Maple Ridge, providing housing for close to 500 seniors.

“At this point, it’s just a shopping expedition,” says local Legion president Jim MacDonald.

The 12-storey Legion Towers was built more than 40 years ago and was originally intended as housing for aging veterans. Currently, it offers subsidized low-cost seniors housing; membership in the Legion isn’t required.

“Down the line, it may need an overhaul, but there’s nothing immediate that needs to be done,” said MacDonald.

Many of the Legion’s other facilities do need work, however, and that costs money.

“They are all getting to that age where they will need renovations in the near future,” said MacDonald.

But the proposal to sell Legion Towers doesn’t sit well with some of the residents in the building.

Bob Kerfoot moved to the Legion Towers after losing $100,000 on a leaky condo in Coquitlam. He doesn’t want to lose his home a second time.

“I don’t like it. Most people in here don’t like it,” said Kerfoot. “I think we’re headed up the wrong path. I don’t know what the answer is, but it’s not this.”

MacDonald said the Legion will place a condition of sale on Legion Towers requiring the buyer to honour the current rental agreements.

“The renters won’t be affected by the sale,” he said. “We’re not going to turf anyone out.”

Kerfoot isn’t so sure that will happen, though.

“No investor who sees a cash cow like this building will agree to that,” he said.

MacDonald said the money from the sale of Legion Towers will also go to the Legion’s investment portfolio, to better ensure ongoing cash flow to maintain the branch’s facilities in the future.

“We’re running a $55-million operation,” he said.

The proposal to sell the legion will be voted on by the local branch’s 2,500 members in March, two-thirds of whom will need to cast ballots for the vote to have quorum.

Kerfoot is afraid the residents of Legion’s other facilities will vote in favour of selling off the building, while Legion Towers residents, many of whom aren’t Legion members and don’t get to vote, will be in the minority.

“I’m going to do whatever I have to do to save this place,” said Kerfoot. “I have nowhere else to go.”

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