The Regina branch of the Royal Canadian Legion announced they will be closing their bar and museum and refocusing their efforts elsewhere.
President and CEO Ron Hitchcock says while the decision was tough, it was necessary.
“The next wave of COVID dropped our business down quite a bit, so we thought it was the right time to get out of the bar business,” said Hitchcock. “We’re in the business of helping veterans, and we need to be focused on that.”
Hitchcock says talks about closing the bar have been going on for years, but the pandemic accelerated the decision.
The Legion plans on leasing out the floor space to other businesses to help them pay the bills.
He says one of the main reasons for the bar closure is the need for the Legion to change their image, adding that younger veterans aren’t interested in coming to the bar.
Hitchcock says Regina is the first Legion branch to focus on the image change, and he hopes others follow suit.
“The Legion is not a building, not a bar, it’s a purpose,” said Hitchcock. “The purpose of the Legion is to help veterans and families, including current serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP. That’s what we need to be focused on, and that’s the only cost that we should be involved in, raising funds for, or paying for.”
Hitchcock says his immediate focus is trying to find good homes for the military artifacts in the museum and finding renters for the vacant space.
He adds he’s excited for the next chapter of the Legion, where there will be more focus on the mental and physical wellbeing of veterans.
“They need help and assistance in mental and physical areas, for example, a gym membership, some counselling with a nutritionist, physical therapy, those kinds of things help,” said Hitchcock. “They’ve told us this, and that’s why we’re doing this.”
The Legion is holding a truck raffle to help raise funds for operating costs. Tickets are limited to 2,000 and cost $100, with all proceeds going towards helping veterans. More information can be found on the lottery website.