By Joanne McDonald
Smithville’s beloved Legion Hall has received a financial lift from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to make much needed accessibility upgrades to the popular community space.
Legion members and guests gathered Thursday at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 393 to cut the ribbon and celebrate the newly completed construction, the result of a $118,000 capital grant awarded by the OTF.
“The Legion has a special place in the heart of our community,” said Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff, joining the grand opening of the renovations.
“The Royal Canadian Legion plays a vital role for our veterans, their families, and for our whole community,” Oosterhoff said, thanking the veterans and Legion members.
“We need to thank you more often.”
The major additions involved the installation of a chair lift, an interior ramp and railing into the main hall, an accessible washroom, new flooring and modifications to the main entrance.
The hall is used by the Legion Branch for meetings and events, and by a number of local organizations involving people of all ages and abilities.
“What a difference this has made,” said Dave Bingham, a volunteer with the OTF grant review team.
Citing the “inevitable” fact they were all getting older and accessibility more important, Bingham said, “I am pleased to see it has come to fruition.”
West Lincoln Mayor Dave Bylsma credited the “quality construction” done by father and son team John (Sr.) and John (Jr.) Verdonk of John Verdonk Construction.
“It is exciting to be here today to take our beloved Legion and showcase what has been done with the help of the Ontario Trillium Foundation,” Bylsma said.
The Royal Canadian Legion is Canada’s largest veteran support and community service organization, with 270,000 members across the country.
The Legion is dedicated to supporting veterans and their families in need, honouring those who sacrificed for their country, and providing essential services within communities.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart and the hearts of many veterans,” said Kathey Putman, RCL Branch 393 President.
“You’ve done outstanding work here,” said Putman, thanking the OTF and volunteers for their hours dedicated to the hall built in 1945.
Calling it a new era, “we are here for veterans, seniors and our community.”
The Legion is committed to preserving the space and ensuring that it remains available for many community activities throughout the year.
The hall is available for rental when not otherwise committed. For more information call the Branch at 905-957-3935.