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Waiting game for Kelowna veterans association to find new clubhouse

The former Army Navy and Air Force Veterans Unit 376 clubhouse has been sold and construction work is ongoing.
January 18, 2021 - 7:00 AM

It’s a waiting game to see what the future holds for a Rutland veterans association that has ties to Kelowna dating back to the 1970s.

In September, the Army Navy and Air Force Veterans Unit 376 sold its clubhouse on Dougall Street, after facing financial challenges. Now, construction work is ongoing at the location, and a Thompson Community Services sign has been erected.

“It’s all memories now, we don’t have a place to move to right now. The biggest problem is we got this COVID thing and that’s what’s holding everything up,” said Jack Warren, an air force veteran who has been a part of the Rutland Anavets since its inception and is its oldest member.

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Warren joined the air force in 1953 when he was 18 and worked as part of the grounds crew. He never fought in the Korean War as it ended before he could travel overseas.

“We’re just here to try to build something to help old people, to give them some place to come together and communicate and play games…. It’s a second home,” Warren said.

The association and its clubhouse provided veterans with a place to connect and hold fundraisers for the community. Every year, the Anavets organize the Nov. 11 parade to the Rutland cenotaph and look after poppy sales in Rutland, said club present Kathy Barber.

It has existed at its former clubhouse location on Dougall Road since roughly 2001. The Canadian Anavets have existed since 1840 and perhaps earlier, according to the association’s website.

The former location of the Kelowna Anavets.
The former location of the Kelowna Anavets.

The Kelowna association has currently made no moves to purchase a new space yet, in the midst of a pandemic, but they do have a few options in mind, Barber said.

“There’s no point in looking at something and then getting a mass shut down again,” she said. “Our wish is to remain out here in Rutland, this is where we started in 1972 when we got our charter, and this is where most of our clientele live and come to.”

READ MORE: Veterans connect with students online in lead-up to pandemic-era Remembrance Day

Since the sale, the association is now debt-free and searching for a space that can house roughly 50 of its more than 300 members at a time, she said.

But if they can’t find a location in the next five years, that means an end of Kelowna’s unit as that’s how long the association has a charter, she said. They’ve also renewed their business license for this year.

Membership has decreased in the last few years, from more than 400 in 2019 to 340 in 2020, she said, and there may be a dip in membership with COVID-19.


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