Blake Ellis/Local Journalism Initiative
The Petrolia Legion has been dealt a financial blow in the middle of an $800,000 renovation campaign. The effort to make the Legion hall more accessible began last year and so far $22,000 has been raised. The Legion has partnered with the Petrolia Community Foundation and the Town of Petrolia to allow the project to take in donation and give tax receipts to any donation over $25 to the Petrolia Legion’s building fund. The work, which needs to be completed by the summer of 2025, includes updating the washrooms on both levels to make them accessible, installing an elevator which will be able to move powered wheelchairs and refreshing the exterior of the building. Members painted portions of the outside of the building in June, with also some areas inside the building seeing a new coat of paint. But in January, officials from the Petrolia/North Enniskillen Fire Department conducted a routine inspection and found the sprinkler system wasn’t adequate for the building. The inspectors said the Legion needs a complete pull station fire alarm system with a $60,000 price tag. Because the system can’t be purchased immediately, the department reduced the capacity of the building from 390 to 150 people until it is installed. President Robert White is frustrated, saying not only does it add another thing to the list to fix, the building can’t to function to its full potential as one of the largest spaces in Petrolia for gatherings. That will make it difficult to raise both the $60,000 needed for the alarm system as well as the $800,000 for renovations.
White says there are currently 135 Legion members in the branch, but there is only a small core of active members, like many other volunteer organizations. White called on members to become more active, as the branch needs everyone’s talents to raise the cash needed for the renovations and the new alarm system. The Legion remains active. First Vice President Alex Billings said the bar has been rebranded as the 216 Lounge. Karaoke is being held every Friday evening. Fun dart nights are being held every Thursday with card groups playing on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday each week. The Country Soft Rock Music Jamboree is held on the third Wednesday of every month. Ladies Night is being planned for Aug. 19. White said usually these regular events take a break in the summer, but the Legion has decided to continue to help with fundraising. Billings and White are hoping an application to the Ontario Trillium Foundation to cover the cost of the alarm system will be successful.