Ucluelet ANAF executive shuts down clubhouse

A local live music venue and veterans’ club is closed for business, at least for now.

The Ucluelet chapter of the Army, Navy, Air Force Veterans in Canada (ANAF) is not churning up enough patronage to keep up with its bills and, at a meeting held on Wednesday night, the executive voted to close its clubhouse.

Leslie Horne was the only vote in opposition.

Prior to the vote, Eric Russcher laid out the club’s financial situation and noted Horne’s efforts to bring in patrons over the summer were valiant.  

“I won’t say its put us in the black but its kept us at just below break-even, which is probably as well as we’ve ever done,” he said.

“That was great. That was the summer. It did not touch any of our outstanding debts.”

He said the ANAF is buried about $18,000 deep in debt after carrying $13,000 of debt into 2014 and racking up another $5,000 so far this year.

He said Horne had done a great job rallying memberships but noted membership fees go to the ANAF’s Provincial and Dominion commands, not the local clubhouse.

He suggested a key reason why the clubhouse needed to close down is the executive’s inability to afford its $6,000 annual insurance fee.

“As it stands now, we have no insurance,” he said. “The idea right now, since we have no insurance, is to close the hall for business effective immediately.”

He said the club’s insurance ran out about three months ago leaving the executive’s six directors personally liable for any injuries or damages.

Horne asked how the ANAF plans to pay off its debts after cutting off clubhouse customers and Russcher responded a combination of smaller bills and selling off assets—like the club’s pool table and furniture—would do the trick until the building is sold.

The clubhouse property is currently listed on RE/MAX at $250,000.

Executive member Lucia Lyons asked what would happen if the ANAF fundraised the roughly $18,000 needed to clear its debts.

“I, in clear conscious, cannot be sitting on the board that closes this place. I, like a lot of the community, have a lot of attachment to this place,” she said.

“I just think there’s so many people that have an attachment to this place and it’s really sad that we can’t do more…because $18,000, in the scheme of everything, is not a ton of money.”

Russcher responded that raising $18,000 would only bring the club back to square one.

“After that, you continue going down again,” he said.  

Executive chair Luc Chagnon said if the money was raised prior to the building being sold, a special general meeting would be held and the ANAF’s general membership could decide whether to re-open the clubhouse.

Russcher lamented over roughly 66 years of local history coming to an end but said shutting down the club had become inevitable.

“When we had our (annual general meeting) there was a commitment from this executive to find ideas on moving forward to avoid exactly this situation,” he said.  

“Unfortunately this situation has now hit. If you look at it strictly from a business point of view we should have closed long ago; the only reason we’re still open today is an emotional attachment to this place.”

Executive member Rob Adams agreed.

“People are making it sound like we’re going out of our way to defeat the place when that’s not the case,” he said. “It’s not a sound financial business decision to keep it going.”

Horne argued the general public was not aware of the situation until recently so had not had time to kick into fundraising mode and she questioned how the clubhouse could be reopened if the executive sells off everything inside.

Chagnon replied the executive had no alternative to selling its assets.

Chagnon told the Westerly after the meeting that if the executive allows its debt to continue rising, the loss to the community could be ten-fold because the ANAF’s provincial command could seize its assets.  

“At the situation we are in now, we’re in danger of losing the whole thing to BC Command,” he said. “They can come take the whole pub (and) if they do that then they sell the property and all the money goes to Vancouver.”

He said if the executive sold its assets it could distribute the money to local non-profits.

“By us selling the club (and) paying off our debts, we’re still going to have money left aside,” he said.

“We want to try to get ahead of the game to prevent BC Command from taking the money and diverting it away from the community. We’re trying to get to that point where, if we have to close our charter, we can donate the money locally.”

Executive member Jo-Ann Chagnon noted few locals attended Wednesday night’s meeting despite all the recent social media chatter in support of saving the club.

 â€œThere was supposed to be this big uproar of all these people coming tonight to protest the closing of the pub, there’s four people here besides the executive,” she said.

Despite the clubhouse shutting down, the Ucluelet ANAF’s charter will continue functioning at least until 2015’s annual general meeting, which will likely be held in February.

reporter@westerlynews.ca