I just read an article in the Burnaby Now, Burnaby Heights Legion considering selling property, and started to wonder why such a long-standing institution that has been a gathering place for our veterans since 1937 has been forced to consider selling its property on Hastings St in the heart of Burnaby Heights. Legion Branch 148 has struggled financially, due to increasing property assessments, to cover its property taxes. Repeated attempts by its members to convince City Council to give it a full tax exemption has fallen on deaf ears.
On Remembrance Day, a day for us to remember sacrifices that no monetary compensation would ever come close to covering the debt owed our veterans, I find it ironic that our city is holding our local Legion Branch financially accountable to the point that it might have to close its doors.
Property values in the region have steadily increased and though many people have financially benefited from it, for the average person not involved in real estate speculation, it has merely meant higher property taxes, and institutions such as the Legion are in the same boat. I am a proponent of change in the form of higher density development that can transform neighbourhoods, but not at the expense of losing an institution that I'm certain means more to our veterans than anyone else could even imagine.
I would like to see our politicians, both current and aspiring, to talk to this issue and work towards keeping Branch 148 in Burnaby Heights. Garth Evans of Team Burnaby has stated that he does not want change when it comes to development that might significantly change the Burnaby Heights area. I believe that this is the type of change that he might have been talking about at the All Candidates' Meeting at Gilmore School last week. I just hope that he himself realizes what he was talking about and makes this an issue during this election campaign as well as beyond November 19th.