NEWS

Should Legion Halls get discounts from the Beer Store?

01/23/2015 03:53 EST | Updated 03/25/2015 05:59 EDT
Royal Canadian Legion Halls are different than other bars — though apparently not in the eyes of the Beer Store.

Legion Halls are traditionally community hubs for veterans, where having a beer or two is a welcome ritual for some members.

Since Legions are not-for-profit and membership-based, beer prices are generally offered to members at below market prices. Despite that, Canada's National Brewers, the multinational consortium that owns the Beer Store, still charges Legion Halls the same prices as all other bars.

"We're not any other kind of bar. It's important for us to keep the prices low," said Shelley Lyons of Baron Byng Branch 1-47 in the Beach. "We're here for the veterans, and we want to get them somewhere to go that's not expensive."

Lyons sells beer for $3.25 a bottle.

At current market rates, that's as much as $4 less than some Toronto bars.

Lyons says money from beer sales help fund programs like veterans lunches.

Like all licensed establishments, Legion Halls pay an average of $10 more per case of beer than the public does. The Baron Byng Branch sells 30 cases beer a month — about $1,200 per month. Some of that money, Lyons argued, could have gone to support programs for Ontario's war vets.

On top of that, it's getting more expensive to run the halls. "We struggle daily with finances," said Lyons.

Former Veteran's Ombudsman Pat Strogran agreed Legion Halls should get a break on beer pricing.

"It wouldn't be a big ask. It wouldn't hurt the Beer Store's bottom line that much," he said.

Canada's National Brewers could not comment on the idea.

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