Sooke legion seeks liquor licensing expansion

Legion wants to sell alcohol to the public

Sooke councillors will send a rezoning application to public hearing which could allow the Royal Canadian Legion to sell alcohol to the public.

The legion can only sell alcohol to its members and guests.

District council is not the approving body for such application, but in order for the legion to apply for the liquor licence change, it must rezone its clubhouse on Eustace Road from community facility to general commercial.

Janice Watson, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 54 president, said the change in the liquor licence is to open the bar to the public and create more revenue.

“We are not changing anything else at the legion, except to get more revenue to keep us going,” Watson said.

Last spring, the legion announced it was in a “financial crisis” and turned to the community for help.

RELATED: Sooke legion in financial crisis

District staff recommended the application to proceed. The zoning bylaw has general requirements for landscaping, parking, public safety and pedestrian access.

“Development Services is supportive of the rezoning of 6726 Eustace to permit the sale of alcohol on the premises to increase revenue that in turn supports the organization as well as a range of community groups within the District of Sooke,” says a staff report.

Sooke RCMP have no objection to the application.

In January 2017, the B.C. Liquor Control Licensing Board allowed service clubs to transition their liquor primary club licence to a liquor primary licence allowing them access to a larger market. The new policy requires the clubs are in compliance with local zoning regulations.

The Sooke legion has been in operation since 1926, and supports community, veterans, seniors and youth groups. In 2016, the legion donated $42,000 back to the community.

Mayor Maja Tait questioned staff on how the application could affect the legion’s permissive tax exemption.

Council would need to consider the level of support it is willing to give the organization, said Brent Blackhall, the district’s finance director.

“It would be up to the applicant to demonstrate they are still providing a public benefit,” he said.

Meanwhile, district council also sent a rezoning application for property at 6882 West Coast. Rd.

The developer is proposing to rezone .31 hectares of land to create two small residential lots and two medium lots.