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YourTown analogy

by on July 7, 2010

A letter to the Editor:

Dear fellow citizens:    A true story.  A Charity Gone Awry

In Yourtown, Ontario there were many children who wanted to play hockey.  Having no arena of their own, they had to rent ice from nearby arenas owned by other municipalities.  This was very difficult, because they had only the poorest ice times available to them, as outsiders.  A group of caring parents, coaches and citizens worked very hard to raise the money to build an arena for the local children.  It began as an outdoor ice surface and due to excellent engineering and architecture, the group were able to improve the arena each year, as they raised money.  One year they added some benches, another year they added scorekeepers, another they added a roof.   Recently, Ontario decided to eliminate all the Municipalities within it.  No more cities, towns, villages, townships, or counties.  All Councils were eliminated; all money was sent up to the Provincial Government.  People were now just Ontarians, no local names, but given a number –  of a sector.  Yourtown was in Sector 32.  That became their only identity.  All buildings across the Province were now owned by Ontario Government.  All property and/or commercial tax went straight to their coffers. The little groups who built and maintained the arenas had no authority in what was needed in their communities – no capital projects were permitted and the money saved for their projects was forfeited.  Many other municipalities had their arenas closed and put on the market for sale; the proceeds of hard-earned money would disappear to pay civil servant salaries and government honorariums.  The children still needed this arena.  Ontario had not put one red cent into the properties.  The Province threatened to remove Yourtown Committee’s OHIP cards if they did not comply.  They bullied Yourtown’s Committee members with conference calls, threatening letters, and received back-up from the Canadian Government through a joint plan to focus on running the Province like big business, rather than focusing on quality of life for the citizens.   What would you do??  Would you fight??!!

There is not an end to this story as yet.   This is the story of Ontario Girl Guide camps.  Girl Guides of Canada – Ontario, has eliminated all the levels of Guiding between the Units and the Province, assigned us to a large geographic areas called Community 1,2,3 etc., taken over stewardship of all Ontario camps, and is selling off half of the Ontario camps, with more to follow when severe benchmarks are not met by those camps remaining.  This is a David and Goliath story.  The former beneficiary owners of these camps need the help of their communities, parents, former members, contributors and interested citizens.  This is an example of an organization changing their rules and by-laws to permit changes in the basic tenets and charitable purpose for which the original Charity was formed.  There is no representation from the grass roots in Girl Guides anymore.  The volunteer Council at the top have the power and authority to replace each other, without election by the membership.  The little local camp Committees have volunteers who have worked for decades within the organization, and they are being threatened with expulsion from the Charity if they do not comply with the orders from above.  2010 is the anniversary of 100 years of Guiding in Canada, and was to be a year of celebration.  Imagine the devastation when 16 areas were told their camps were being sold, after decades of taking loving care of these properties for the children to enjoy.  No money from the sales comes back down to the local folks who raised it.  We need your help to express outrage and dismay at the bullying and removal of these fine community volunteers from their positions, at the removal of the facilities and funds from the local areas, at the breakdown of a century-old organization which focused on children learning and having fun – not on money for salaries and a high-priced expensive office building.  Some members of these small groups are continuing in this abusive relationship because of their deep belief that our children still need this camp.  We hope this story makes clear the changes that have taken place and why there is a rising storm of unrest within Ontario Girl Guides.  This can be seen at www.onmyhonour.ca These camps are not burdens from the past, but are borrowed from the children of the future, for us to maintain and treasure.  Once they are gone, they will never be re-acquired.         Do you care? ??     Please let us hear from you at the onmyhonour website!!         Sylvia Dufresne, Barrie, Ontario.

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2 Comments
  1. I totally agree with this analogy. Here in the Quinte area, we lost our Camp Waupoos and there is much sadness. To think that on the eve of our 100th Anniversary of Girl Guides in Canada that such a thing would happen is ridiculous. Many of the old-time guiders tried to protest but to much avail. The newer guiders did not have the background to realize what was happening. I am afraid that Guiding in this community is going downhill. There are still some guiders that are remaining in units for the girls so I do applaud them but what has happened will place a black mark on Guiding. Transformation was the beginning of the end.
    Thank you for promoting “On My Honour”.

  2. Sharon Patrois permalink

    That is a fantastic analogy of what has been happening to our Ontario Guiding organization and camps. At an awards ceremony in Toronto recently over 124 girls received awards,and at least 98% of them said that their fondest Guiding memories originated at Guide camps. That percent is probably throughout all off Ontario and across Canada. With the decision to close all these camps, you can be assured that the girls’ comments will change due to lack of camping sites and qualified leaders to take them!! Up in Northern Ontario. we have been hit hard and all of our camps north of Doe Lake (which is VERY expensive) near Huntsville have been closed. Each camp has different circumstances regarding ownership and maintenance, so should NOT have been put on Province’s CLOSING LIST without input from the individual camp committees and Guiders who used them every year!

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