Former Yellowknife Legion president takes organization to court for over 200K in alleged unpaid rent

The Yellowknife Legion has operated a bar and social club on the main floor of the Franklin Avenue building since 2018. (Hilary Bird/CBC - image credit)
The Yellowknife Legion has operated a bar and social club on the main floor of the Franklin Avenue building since 2018. (Hilary Bird/CBC - image credit)

A landlord is asking the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories to help him evict the Yellowknife Legion and help him collect more than $235,000 in unpaid rent.

In court documents, the building's owner, Don Asher of Adonis Planning Ltd., alleges the Yellowknife Royal Canadian Legion Branch 164, has refused to vacate the premises after not paying rent for months. The Legion has operated a bar and social club on the main floor of the Franklin Avenue building since 2018.

A former Legion president, Asher said he bought the building in 2018 and began leasing the main floor to the branch for $10,000 a month plus a share of the building's utilities.

"I am an army veteran and passionate supporter of the Legion and I believed the bigger purchase of the building was an opportunity to provide for membership growth and succession, and the Legion needed a new lease premises," Asher wrote in an affidavit.

A year after the initial lease, Asher entered into an agreement with the branch to lease the basement of the building to use as storage as long as the space was renovated, the documents say. Asher said the Legion agreed to pay $5,000 a month for the basement space plus another share of the building's utilities.

Asher said he used that new lease to get a loan from the Business Development Corporation for the basement renovation.

He said the Legion never actually paid the rent for the basement space so after two years, in July 2022 the lease for the space was terminated.

Asher said he is owed $235,989 in unpaid rent for both the main floor, basement and utilities.

Space not to code, says Legion

The Yellowknife Legion has yet to file its defence but it's lawyer, Chris Buchanan told CBC the organization denies it owes Asher the $235,000.

"The Legion will be filing its own affidavit material … which will provide the complete story of what has occurred," Buchanan said.

"We are disputing the lease he has put forward [to the court]. We will be making that allegation in court."

Buchanan said Legion members did not sign that lease.

In a letter from June submitted to the court by Asher, Legion treasurer Ken Stewart writes that Asher was illegally renting the basement space.

Stewart writes that a fire inspection in May found the space "does not meet the current code." Stewart also claims that Asher was drastically over charging them for utilities.

"The four-year billing for all [utilities costs] is not only a breach of the lease but inflating invoices in fraud," Stewart writes in his June letter to Asher.

The letter also says that the entire lease agreement for main floor of the building is void because Asher was allegedly president of the Legion at the time it was signed.

"At the time of signing, the signature of Adonis Planning Ltd. [Asher] was the president of the Legion executive and directed the treasurer at the time to sign as the Legion representative," the letter says.

"We realize that Adonis Planning Ltd. and the [Legion] do not want to go to court and handle this conflict in public. To avoid this, we propose that you sign the attached letter agreeing our lease agreement is complete with no penalties."

Stewart also wrote that "the past four years have been troublesome with conflict on both sides we do not want to go to court, we would prefer to write this off to bad investments and move on."

Both parties will appear in N.W.T. Supreme Court on November 18.