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Edmonton’s Royal Canadian Legion Norwood Branch 178 raises money with hopes of avoiding permanent closure

Click to play video: 'Norwood Legion in Edmonton raises money with hopes of avoiding permanent closure' Norwood Legion in Edmonton raises money with hopes of avoiding permanent closure
Low membership, an aging facility and a mountain of debt has an Edmonton legion branch on the brink of shutting its doors for good. But as Chris Chacon reports, it's fighting to stay open to support veterans and keep them involved in the community – May 15, 2022

It’s a place where veterans in Edmonton unite, play games and socialize. The Royal Canadian Legion Norwood Branch 178 has been around since the 1940s.

But as of late, the legion has fallen on tough times.

“We are at risk for closing, we are probably no more than 14 days away from closing,” Royal Canadian Legion Norwood Branch 178 business manager Bill Huziek said.

Read more: Royal Canadian Legion worried about donations as COVID-19 reduces number of poppy boxes in Alberta

Huziek added that a rough few years, plus the pandemic, has the legion facing more than $200,000 in debt, and that’s not all.

“We’re in desperate need of updating our infrastructure on the inside, our kitchen facility massively needs to be redone, our bar facility needs to be upgraded and our POS systems need to be redone,” he said.

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Huziek noted these upgrades are essential to help generate revenue.

However, it isn’t just the Norwood legion that’s struggling to keep up. Huziek said many others are dealing with similar difficulties.

“Every legion across Canada is struggling with membership issues and volunteers,” Huziek said

Just a few months ago, the Kingsway Legion was also at risk of closing its doors.

Read more: Edmonton’s Kingsway Legion at risk of closing: ‘We don’t want to lose this’

 

Legion president Mike Sirman said he wants people to know the legion is now “not only” for veterans, but for everyone. He hopes to attract a younger demographic through some of the changes that have been made, including a pivot from traditional events to things such as wrestling matches and dances.

Sirman said the legion has also started a GoFundMe page in hopes that Edmontonians will donate to help keep the legion alive.

“I think it would be a major loss to the community and city because this has been sort of an icon for a long time in the city,” Sirman said.

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