Jim MacDonald

Jim MacDonald

Legion votes to sell tower in Maple Ridge

329 came out to vote at the Legion’s special general meeting Wednesday night, with more than two-thirds voting in favour of the sale

Residents of the Legion Towers seniors’ high rise are unsure about the future of their homes after members of the Maple Ridge branch of the Royal Canadian Legion voted Wednesday night to sell the building to pay for repairs to their other properties.

“I’m very worried I’ll lose my home,” says Legion Towers resident Bob Kerfoot. “We’ve asked them to put it in stone to make sure the people in the Towers are protected and won’t get turfed out, but they’ve skirted around it.

“When the crest comes off that building, it will be a sad day.”

Legion president Jim McDonald said the Legion is doing its best to ensure that Legion Towers residents will keep their low-income rental units

“Everything we are doing is to protect the current tenants,” he said. “We’re working with B.C. Housing to ensure they’ll stay [at their current rents].”

“Nobody is going to be pushed out onto the street.”

Of the close to 2,500 Branch 88 members, 329 came out to vote at the Legion’s special general meeting Wednesday night, with more than two-thirds voting in favour of the sale.

The local Legion is one of the largest branches in Canada with one of the largest housing portfolios, operating six facilities in Maple Ridge, providing housing for close to 500 seniors.

The 89-unit Legion Towers on 224th Street was originally intended as housing for aging veterans. Currently, it offers subsidized low-cost seniors housing, with rent ranging from $420 to $560 a month for two bedrooms; membership in the Legion isn’t required.

The downtown building is assessed at more than $7 million, but could sell for more than that.

McDonald wouldn’t say if the building will be sold to another non-profit housing organization.

“We’re still at any early stage,” he said. “We not sure how we’re going to market it yet.”

The sale of the property will likely take years, McDonald said.

“This isn’t a panic sell,” he said. “We’re in no rush to sell it, and we’ll be very cautious of who we sell it to.”

MacDonald said the money from the sale of Legion Towers will go to paying for renovations to the 56-unit Legion Gardens and the 84-unit Legion Manor senior homes, which require repairs to the buildings’ body envelope and balconies.

The remainder of the money from the sale will go into the Legion’s investment portfolio, to better ensure ongoing cash flow to maintain the branch’s facilities in the future.

While the local Legion branch owns the Legion Towers, built close to 40 years ago, it is operated jointly through an agreement with B.C. Housing, unlike its five other facilities.

Kerfoot believes the Legion chose to get rid of the high rise because of the agreement, because B.C. Housing has control over who can live there.

“We’ve had some people who’ve had drug problems, and some that got violent, but got rid of them,” said Kerfoot. “[The Legion] doesn’t have control over who can live there, and they can’t get it, so they’re going to sell it off.”

McDonald said the agreement has been in place since the facility was built, and wasn’t a factor in the decision to sell.