Ontario Properties and Camps

The message is sell, sell, sell

By Scouters Ted Claxton and Liam Morland, May 17, 2004

The final session of the Conference was titled "Properties and Camps". Barry Hardaker introduced the session by describing the role of Ontario Council in property ownership. Ontario Council will formally cease operations at the end of August 2004. However, the "Incorporated Body" will continue to exist for the purpose of holding property in trust. Barry introduced Stu Eley who gave a presentation about properties. Stu is a director of the Incorporated Body. Other Directors are Ian Galbraith, Brian Anderson, John Edwards, Kim Derry and Brian Moore. The presentation filled the time allowed, leaving no time for questions.

Scouter Stu, sticking close to his notes, spoke about the property-related challenges facing Scouts Canada. He said that many properties are not in compliance with modern building and health regulations and that this creates a liability. He gave as an example a camp on Riley Lake which he described as a tiny, disused property with one derelict cabin. A curious person could to fall through the floor of the cabin or be electrocuted by the still-operational power.

The Incorporated Body has identified 180 Scout properties in Ontario. They claim that many of these are not compliant with current standards and, due to membership decline, are not operating at capacity. Scouter Stu stated that "everyone understands" that some properties are not of value and should be sold. He did not provide any criteria for assessing the value of a camp or what it means to say that a camp is or is not operating at capacity.

Scouter Stu described the property-related process that has taken place. In 2002, a list of properties was made. Through most of 2003, there were various discussions involving Council-level people. In late 2003, a 17 page survey was sent to the property managers of each camp. The accompanying letter threatened that non-response would mean the sale of the property. Scouter Stu acknowledged that the tone of the letter was un-Scoutlike and apologized.

Today, there are 100 outstanding surveys from the 180 distributed. The Incorporated Body wants the surveys completed. They said that they plan to give a copy of the list of outstanding properties to the Council Commissioners so that they can ensure assessments are completed. They stated that this list will not be made available to ordinary members of Scouts Canada.

Scouter Stu reported that they have developed a score card to assess the property surveys. The card includes compliance with standards, features and facilities of the camp, program potential, capacity, and usage.

Using the score card, the Incorporated Body has classified into four categories the 80 camps whose surveys were returned. The four categories are:

  1. General agreement to sell among Incorporated Body board members.
  2. Some agreement to sell.
  3. General agreement to keep.
  4. More information is needed.

Scouter Stu said that they would not release at this time a list of which camps are in which category. This information will not be public. The Incorporated Body would like to contact property managers this spring about sales.

Scouter Stu stated that proceeds from the sale of properties will remain at the Council level in a segregated fund. He stated that funds will be accessed through a council-approved business plan. The proceeds can be spent on capital projects. Operating expenses are expected to be covered out of fees. Interest on the capital may also be used to fund operating expenses.

The Incorporated Body has completed a tendering process to choose the Realtor who will handle the sales. Five companies applied and Royal LePage was selected. Each council will select a lawyer to handle the paperwork for their properties.

Scouter Stu said that the Incorporated Body would like input into the process for reviewing Ontario's Scout Camps. They wanted ideas relating to:

Scouter Liam Morland's feedback is in the document "Managing our Scout Camps".

Overall, the meeting was not about making the best use of Scout properties. It was about clearing the way for selling them. While this meeting was open to the general membership, the process they described involved council-level people and few others. The general membership is cut out. The Incorporated Body does not seem to realize that many Scout camps are beneficially owned by local Scouting and only held in trust by Ontario Council. As such, they cannot be legally sold without the consent of whatever local Scouting unit they are deeded to. This issue is discussed in "Save Your Scout Camp" by Scouter Ted Claxton.