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Vernon Elks look to city for assurances of future

Club has been at its current downtown location for 70 years; wants help from city to remain
Vernon Elks Lodge No. 45 has been a fixture at 32nd Avenue and 30th Street for 70 years, and the club itself has been serving the community for more than a century. But a couple of moves made by the city to the club’s facility has the Elks wondering about its downtown future. (Google Maps)

The Vernon Elks Lodge #45 is reminding the city of its status as a long-time, well-serving member of the downtown core.

To that end, with the Lodge likely to get new neighbours with proposed development around its home at 32nd Avenue and 30th Street, board members Ruth Hoyte and Dan Irvine approached the city at its May 8 council meeting with a pair of requests.

“Our ask today is to open up a dialogue with the city,” said Hoyte, Elks’ vice-president. “As the block redevelops we want to and need to be part of those discussions.”

The current Elks board saluted the city for its downtown revitalization plans, which included removing overhead power from the Elks block. But the board was then taken aback by the recent reconfiguring of power service to its 70-year-old building (the Elks Lodge is in its 103rd year of community service to Vernon).

“I’ve had numerous conversations with contractors and with B.C. Hydro, and the end result is that our fire escape terminated halfway down as a result of the electrical service, and the fire marshall requested it be reinstalled,” said Elks secretary Dan Irvine. “Our current executive says the city paid for the reinstallation of the fire escape at the fire marshall’s insistence, and hired a contractor.”

Irvine told council two of three historical alley accesses to the Elks Lodge have been removed with no consultation from the city, and the remaining alley access is vital to the lodge’s operations. The Elks’ loading dock, wheelchair ramp and off-street parking (seven-to-eight spots) are all accessed by the alley.

“What we’re asking, and I don’t know what form it will take, but we ask for assurance from the city that the alley access we have left is not further compromised,” he said.

Both of the Elks’ requests are part of the service club’s desire to remain a fixture of downtown Vernon’s social culture. The club recently hosted more than 2,000 people for the Taste of Vernon event, and regularly plays host to dances, live music, organizational meetings (downstairs and upstairs at the Lodge), and celebrations of life.

“We at Elks 45 feel that our actions in recent years are a first step in changing the narrative to one where Elks 45 is welcomed as a valuable downtown Vernon member, and that our building remain a historical fixture in Vernon’s landscape,” said Irvine.

Elks 45 has hosted more than 340 events or activities at the hall since January 2022.

Council received the Elks’ presentation for information.

“The Elks are a significant part of the community and downtown,” said Mayor Victor Cumming. “It’s in a very good, low-cost location to hold large-group events, and you’ve done that successfully. Hopefully, it will go on.”

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Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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