By Tracey Arial
Last Monday, the Quebec Municipal Commission held a tribunal to revise its June 2013 decision to revoke the tax-exempt status of LaSalle Legion Branch 212.
If it stands, last year’s decision means that the LaSalle Legion owes the City of Montreal $48,000 in tax revenue for the last two years plus almost $30,000 a year going forward. Montreal sent law intern Aicha Ali Taiga to oppose the Legion’s request.
“This commission does not have the power to undo the decision it made last year,” said Ali Taiga. “If the Legion wants to appeal the decision, it has to do so through Quebec Superior Court.”
Ali Taiga claimed that four previous cases back up her contention; three were written by Commissioner Léonard Serafini, who was the judge hearing Monday’s case.
During the court case, Legion officials Fred and Bob Jennings and retired policeman member Gilbert Archambault outlined all the ways that LaSalle Legion 212 supports the community plus 316 members, including veterans in the Ste. Anne’s Hospital. Commemorations to the Battle of the Atlantic and other World War II events, parade participation, dinners, dart leagues and a card club help limit the isolation of veterans and local seniors, they said.
The Legion also donates funds to various foundations and its facilities are used for no charge by several local community groups, including the Knights of Columbus, the Parent Family Association, the Mana Food Bank and the Hope Foundation.
Commissioner Serafini explained that none of the items considered in the previous hearing mattered because they were already part of the evidence considered by administrative judge Jacques Lareau last year. In that hearing, Lareau estimated that only 25 percent of the Legion’s activities qualified for tax-exempt status.
Since then, the Legion has made new partnerships with several other community groups. The Catholic Charity Association, for example, will be using Legion facilities three full days a week in July and August. A Cancer for Kids charity used the Legion for a full day last week. There are also community luncheons frequently, with more than forty people using the Legion last week. Beginning next fall, the Legion plans to offer hot meals for only seven dollars every Thursday. A new lending library for books and films is now in operation and the Legion has set up separate reading and movie discussion groups too. A Radio Club now meets at the Legion. Arts and crafts activities and expositions are being organized for the coming months.
“We’ve been in LaSalle for more than 60 years,” said Archambeault. “If you close us down, not only will our members suffer, but all the other associations won’t have anywhere to go either.”
Commissioner Serafini wished the group luck with their activities and said his decision will be rendered in August or September.
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