WATCH: LaSalle Legion may be forced to close over big tax bills

The LaSalle Legion Branch 212 may be forced to close over $54,000 in taxes it owes ever since it lost its tax-exempt non-profit status.

The legion said it received a final notice from the city of Montreal about $26,000 in back taxes. This is in addition to the $30,000 tax bill for the current year.

The legion lost its charity status in 2013 due to changes in criteria. It re-applied before the Quebec Municipal Commission, but their application was denied.

The bill is due November 4, when the legion holds its Remembrance Day ceremony.

The legion said it's been struggling to pay its tax bill since they lost their tax exemption which made the bill go up from $3000 a year to $30,000.

It's set up a GoFundMe campaign to try to raise some of the money.

Legion president Ray Cormie said at a news conference that many provincial and municipal jurisdictions have or are in the process of giving tax exemptions to legions, stopping short of saying it should be an election issue.

"Why can't they do it here? it completely baffles us," said Cormie.

The LaSalle legion refers to the Lachine Legion which had the same problem and got its tax-exempt status back with the help of the borough.

Vice-president Bruce Allan said it`s unfair.

"Why the difference between LaSalle Legion and Lachine Legion? It's all the same criteria, all legions are the same. Why are they giving it to one and not the other? And we don't get an answer from that," said Allan.

In a statement to CJAD 800, the LaSalle borough said it's the city of Montreal that deals with municipal tax issues but that the city is not the one that decides if an organization has the right to a tax exemption - that falls under the jurisdiction of the Municipal Commission.

The borough also said it has helped the legion as much as possible, including filling out all the necessary forms.

CJAD 800 is still awaiting a response from the city of Montreal. 

Cormie said the legion provides not only services and a gathering place for veterans but also for community groups, such as the LaSalle D&D 50+ Centre,  RCMP retirees and Air Cadets as well as fundraisers.

Dorothy Gleeson, coordinator for the seniors club, said it would be a great loss to the community.

"We all feel so badly that they are in a position where they fought for our freedom and for our country and now they are fighting just to keep their doors open."