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New, smaller North Burnaby Legion hall proposed

An early conceptual rendering of the project proposed for the site of the North Burnaby Legion hall on Hastings Street. The separate building for the Legion branch is in red and has since been relocated in the design to the eastern end of the site. - Contributed courtesy Epta Properties and Chris Dikeakos Architects Inc.
An early conceptual rendering of the project proposed for the site of the North Burnaby Legion hall on Hastings Street. The separate building for the Legion branch is in red and has since been relocated in the design to the eastern end of the site.
— image credit: Contributed courtesy Epta Properties and Chris Dikeakos Architects Inc.

The North Burnaby legion hall will live on if a redevelopment is approved on its Hastings Street site.

Epta Properties Ltd. has applied to rezone 4354 Hastings St. to allow construction of a five-storey, mixed-used project where the current 1955 legion hall and its parking lot stand.

The development, between Madison and Rosser avenues, would actually be in two separate buildings.

On one side would be one level of commercial space on the ground floor facing Hastings, a residential mezzanine facing the rear lane, and three storeys of housing above. It's the mezzanine that adds enough height to make it a five-storey building, said a city staff report.

The other side would comprise one floor of retail on the ground floor, a new home for the legion hall on the second floor, and two storeys of offices above.

Vehicle access is from the rear lane and all parking would be underground. A lighted pedestrian walkway linking Hastings with the southern lane would be built to provide easy access for residents between Pender Street and Heights businesses during business hours.

As reported in the NewsLeader, the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 148 has been experiencing financial difficulties for years. Branch president Dave Taylor blamed their troubles on the implementation of smoking bylaws and rising property taxes while members aged and their numbers dwindled.

When they finally decided to contact developers, Epta was the only one which proposed providing a separate building for the legion branch, Taylor said in an interview last fall.

That building, to be built at no cost to the branch, will include not only the branch's new canteen and office but retail and office space it can rent out as a continuing source of income.

At 2,051 square feet, the new legion hall would be much smaller than the one being demolished. It would include 100 liquor seats (80 inside and 20 on an outdoor patio facing Hastings) compared to 425 in the old building.

But the sale of the property will relieve the branch of its debt and give it a stronger grasp on its future finances.

In exchange, Epta gets to build 26 units of condos plus commercial space on the other side of the property. The units will consist of 9 one-bedroom units, 14 two-bedrooms and three three-bedrooms. Units will range in size from 654 to 1,378 square feet.

It's a model that has other struggling legion branches contacting Epta about similar opportunities on their properties, Chris Tsakumis, Epta's vice-president of sales and marketing, told the NewsLeader last fall.

"It's a structure that allows the legions to remain in place with their own income and economic model that will allow them to survive forever so they don't have these concerns 20 years down the road or 50 years down the road again," Tsakumis said.

The rezoning application will go to public hearing on June 24 at 7 p.m. in Burnaby city hall council chambers.

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

twitter.com/WandaChow

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