The Haliburton Legion will soon start work on more than $100,000 of renovations to improve their building’s accessibility.

New washrooms, ramps, power doors and an elevator are all in the works thanks to a federal accessibility grant.

President Don Pitman said features such as elevators will get a lot of use from members.

“The majority of folks who come through our front door would use the elevator if we had it here,” Pitman said. “If we did have it, we’d have lots of seniors who could go between floors.”

To comply with the grant’s guidelines, all work must be completed within a two-year window. The money almost didn’t come at all: the Legion’s application was initially denied before Pitman received word it was actually approved this summer.

“It was great news after two years of nothing happening because of COVID,” he said. Now the Legion will work with an architect to draft plans for the work, before seeking tradespeople to complete each part of the renovation.

Member of Parliament, Jamie Schmale, who was on hand to celebrate the grant, said the renovations will further the Legion’s important work within the community.

“This is fantastic news not just for the Legion but for the community as a whole. It is a hub for this area and people come here for a variety of reasons,” he said. “Without these upgrades it did exclude a significant portion of the population: they just weren’t able to participate fully.”

Aside from making the building more welcoming to people who need accessibility accommodations, Pitman said the renovations mean the group can host functions more efficiently and improve events. He gives the example of an elevator allowing easier transportation of food and drinks during social events. “Right now, our staff have to lug it up the stairs,” he said.

As well, washroom accessibility will also mean a facelift for the ageing facility: “that’s a win in both ways.”

All the work, said Pitman, aims at making the space even more of a “community hub.” “We want this Legion to grow and flourish,” he said.

Get The Highlander in your inbox every Thursday