It’s full steam ahead for a months-long renovation project that will modernize the Cloverdale Legion and position it for the future.
The $350,000 project is a much-needed update for the 60-year-old building, which is home to Royal Canadian Legion Branch 6. It’s a popular community gathering spot, hosting everything from dart clubs and live music to public meetings.
Work began on the auditorium late last month, with plans to renovate the commercial kitchen, washrooms and lounge area, giving the building’s interior a more updated look.
“A lot of it is cosmetic,” renovations committee chair and treasurer Glenn Thomsen said Friday.
In order to keep disruption to patrons at a minimum, work will proceed in phases, starting with the auditorium, which will be getting new flooring and drywall, updated washrooms, and a new folding panel door that creates a separate space from the lounge when multiple events are in swing.
Thomsen said 90 per cent of the work on the auditorium will be complete by the end of the month, when the focus shifts to the kitchen, which is long overdue for an upgrade that will see the installation of new equipment that will allow the Legion to serve pub-style food.
The ability to offer a wider menu to patrons is seen as an important step in broadening the facility’s appeal to existing and new members.
The kitchen renovation is expected to be complete by the May long weekend – Rodeo Week – when the Legion hosts pancake breakfasts during the Cloverdale Rodeo.
“The whole idea is to modernize this thing and keep within budget,” he said.
Other renovations to follow include re-flooring the lounge, improving the layout of the bar and updating the sports lounge, where a large mural depicting a field of poppies will be added to the wall. The office and entranceway will get new flooring, and the building’s three bathrooms will be completely renovated, too.
“I have not had a negative comment yet on modernization and where it’s going,” he said.
Project timelines call for a late March start, with work continuing over the spring and summer in hopes of completion by September or October.
“It’s going to be a push,” he conceded.
As with any renovation involving an older building, you never know what you’re dealing with until work is underway – in this case, three layers of asbestos tiles that had to be safely removed from the auditorium floor before renos could proceed.
“We were fully expecting we would be having some issues,” said Thomsen, explaining the project has budgeted for contingencies like this one.
Meantime, the mantra is to perform the renovations while ensuring minimal disruption to Legion members, guests and staff.
“We hope to stay away from a complete closure,” he said, adding there may be times when the building will be closed for several days in a row.
Three years ago, Branch 6 entered into a letter of intent with Townline, the developer set to break ground this spring on The Bristol, a four-storey residential and commercial complex planned for the old Cloverdale Mall site next door.
Members had approved a plan to move into a new home at Cloverdale West Village, a previous redevelopment scheme for the site.
When that plan fell apart, a mail out survey to 1,800 members indicated that the majority wanted to stay in their current location, and draw upon some of the reserve fund to instead renovate and modernize the building.
Branch 6 applied for a federal Canada 150 Community Infrastructure grant. They received $152,000, which Branch 6 matched.
The location at 17567 57 Avenue – near existing and future residences – is an advantage.
“With a large number of people living near by, we’re really hoping by modernizing the building, we’ll be able to see more people,” he said, adding it’s within walking distance of many homes, which is a another plus.
The hope is to woo new members – as well as lure existing ones back.
Branch 6’s membership is one of the largest in Canada at 1,800, but about 200-300 are considered ‘active’ members.
“We can’t rely on the bar returns like we used to,” he said.
KDS Construction Ltd., is the general contractor for the project, the architect firm is Ankenman Associates Architects Inc., and Concept to
Design is the design firm.