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Fate of Branch 23 reliant on business plan

The executive team overseeing Royal Canadian Legion Branch 23 in North Bay has until the end of the month to assemble a business plan to keep the branch operational.

Gary Pond, President of the Ontario Provincial Command, says the executive of Branch 23 will present the Ontario Command with a business plan for a proposed new location at the Voyageur Inn.

“We’re trying to help them as much we can move forward in a way that they’re not going to lose all of the money they have left in a short matter of time,” he said.

Pond sent a letter to members in September of last year recommending they transfer membership to the branches in either Callander or West Ferris.

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“Your valued membership in the Royal Canadian Legion and the history of Branch 23 will not be forgotten,” Pond’s letter stated. “You are urged to consider transferring to another branch such as Callander or West Ferris to continue the camaraderie and fellowship enjoyed by legion members.”

The letter was issued around the same time Branch 23 moved out of its location on First Avenue. Pond says Branch 23 has financially struggled for the past decade, posting yearly losses.

“It’s not meant as a threat or anything like that,” Pond assured. “It’s meant for members who are struggling who want to be involved in their legion.”

Branch 23 was the first legion that Pond joined while he was stationed in North Bay in the 1970s, and knows the importance of it in the community.

“I’m trying to help them and I’m trying to keep them going as best we can,” he noted. “We don’t want them to fail so we’re trying to guide them right now.”

Pond says he hopes the plan will allow Branch 23 to break even with reduced overhead costs. If the plan is not sufficient, Pond says he will have to recommend the branch surrender its charter.

The business plan will be presented to Pond and the Ontario Command at the end of January.

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