Hey West Coast, go to the ANAF this weekend

Dwindling patronage has Ucluelet’s Army, Navy, Air Force clubhouse up for sale.

The Peninsula Road property is listed at $250,000 and it’s RE/MAX listing suggests the clubhouse may not pass code requirements for a change in use so the property has been priced as if the land was bare.

ANAF volunteer Andy Horne told the Westerly that membership has declined significantly over the past decade and, while the ANAF’s live shows still draw solid crowds, day-to-day operations are not keeping up with costs.

“Recently, it’s come to light that the ANAF is pretty much dying, it’s a sinking ship,” he said.

 â€œThere’s maybe one or two people that show up now, it’s nowhere near what it used to be like, and if we don’t see a change then we’re going to have to shut our doors.”

Andy said he and his mother Leslie are the only volunteers tending to the ANAF’s operations and more volunteers are needed to host events and churn up interest.  

 â€œWe need more volunteers, we need more interest, we need people coming in every day playing darts, playing shuffle board, playing pool, that’s all free (and) it’s the cheapest drinks in town.”

Membership to Ucluelet’s ANAF clubhouse is open to anyone for a cost of $40 and each member can bring in as many as 10 guests.  

While memberships are helpful, Andy said patronage is what’s really important.

“I would say 90 per cent of the membership fees goes directly to the (Ottawa-based) head office and our building itself doesn’t see any of that,” he said.  

Andy’s mother Leslie said she was overwhelmed to see locals “show concern and be upset,” when the for-sale sign went up and she suggested the cascade of local interest has prompted a possible change of direction.

“It was overwhelming to see, it was very nice…We were kind of waiting for the gloom and doom of having to shut the doors,” she said.

 â€œAfter all the uproar after the (for-sale) sign went up, I’ve talked to the executive president and asked him if he can call a meeting of the executive to see if we can reevaluate and go over the issue of actually shutting down.”

The Ucluelet ANAF’s six-member executive committee plans to meet in the near future to discuss options.

If the property were sold, the executive would distribute the proceeds to various local organizations, according to Leslie.

Andy hopes this reality never comes to fruition and suggested about $6,000 would be enough to score a year’s worth of insurance and keep the clubhouse doors open.

“That will get us hopefully enough time to raise enough funds to correct the ship,” he said.

He noted the historic building was once located at Ucluelet’s Sea Plane Base Hall and was used as a mess hall during World War II.

“This is one of the last (and) best places for live music on the Coast,” he said. “It’s got a huge historic significance and it’s been here for ages; it’s a huge town icon.”

Locals unwilling to lose their local ANAF have taken to social media to brainstorm fundraising options and Carla Anderson, who owns Ocean Pet Supplies across the street from the ANAF, is confident locals will shelter the ANAF from its financial storm.  

She suggested holding a fundraiser with local bands donating their services and local businesses donating auction items.

“I think it would be relatively easy for us as a community to come up with the $6,000 that’s needed to keep it running, and from being sold, simply by ticket sales, auction items, and the bands donating their time,” she told the Westerly.

“This is a pretty great community, we’ve come together on some pretty great issues before and I think this could just be one of those things that we all pull together and help keep our community what it is.”

While fundraising opportunities are being discussed, the need to party has never been so imperative so locals are encouraged to hit up the ANAF this weekend.

“We’ve got two shows this weekend, come out and show us that you care,” Andy said.

“We had a bad couple of days when the (for-sale) sign was put up, but the uproar has reinvigorated us. We really want to do this, we want the volunteers to come, we want the people to come and to drink, we want to be busy and we want to keep this place open for live music.”

reporter@westerlynews.ca