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News Article – Camp Caritou – “Locked Out” 30Nov10

by on November 30, 2010

Anya Szabicot, 5, a former Spark, stands outside the gate of Camp Caritou Monday. More than 50 people including local girl guides and supporters, peacefully protested against the sale of the 42-acre parcel of land by Girl Guides of Canada Ontario Council.

Locked out
30 Nov 2010

Local girl guides were fuming Monday after officials with the provincial organization ducked a planned protest at Camp Caritou, arriving beforehand to seize the site.

“This was snaky, under-handed and dishonest. Everything that guiding is against,” said Lori Butterfield, a member of a committee of guiders fighting to save the 42-acre parcel of land, nestled on the shore of Lake Nosbonsing.

Armed with placards, more than 50 people gathered out-side the camp’s locked gate late Monday afternoon, expecting to confront representatives of the organization’s Ontario Council. But by that time, the Girl Guide officials had already been there and gone.

“We agreed to meet them at the gate at 4:30 p.m. to let them in because we had the keys,” said Butterfield, who received a call at 11:30 a.m. informing her a local locksmithing company and two cars were already on the property.
When I came up, they had already changed the locks and were preparing to leave.”

Sgt. Dean Ward, of the Ontario Provincial Police, con-firmed officers responded to the scene. But he said both groups agreed to further pursue their differences in court.
“Nothing was going to be resolved there today,” said Ward.

For the past year, local guides have been protesting the closure of Camp Caritou by the Girl Guides of Canada’s Ontario Council.
The group’s provincial com-missioner said last year operating more than 30 such facilities has run the organization into a $1.37-million deficit.
But local members argue Camp Caritou has been maintained by volunteers for the past 50 years, since its purchase for approximately $6,000 by the Algonquin Division through its fundraising efforts.

“They say they are in debt, but this camp has never cost a penny. We are in the black,” Butterfield said.
The local guides say ownership of the property was transferred to the Ontario council of Girl Guides Canada in trust of the Algonquin division for $2 several years ago for insurance purposes.
“This camp had money set aside, about $40,000 for maintenance. They took that,” Butterfield said.

She said the local organization was told all girl guide accounts within the province would go into one big savings account earmarked for the overall organization, saving smaller groups banking charges.

They said if we didn’t have enough money, they would top up whatever we needed, but we have no access to the funds,” Butterfield said.
For more than a year, the local guides have been con- ducting letter writing campaigns, have hired a lawyer and made a submission to the Office of the Public Guardian, an arm of the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, disputing the sale.
On paper (The Girl Guides of Canada Ontario Council) are the owner of the deed, but they are only trustees and we are the beneficiaries of the property,” Butterfield said.

The local group has repeatedly requested more information about how officials came to the decision to sell the camp. But Lori Hubbert, another member of the local guides, said the typical response is the decision has been made.”
They say the camp doesn’t meet the criteria to stay open, but they haven’t told us what that criteria is. They refused to let us see the reports,” she said.

Cindy Brownlee, a local guide, said none of her inquiries about the decision to sell have been responded to.
But in October, when she used the camp against the provincial council’s wishes, she received an e-mail reprimanding her for performance issues,” she said.
“This is their response to us disobeying them,” Butterfield said, suggesting the provincial organization doesn’t want the local guides to continue using the site.
Basically, this is the parent slapping the child’s hand.”

Calls to the provincial council have not been returned.

  1. Carol S. permalink

    We received this email last week, posted with permission:

    Sent: Fri, December 10, 2010 5:27:11 PM

    Subject: This sounds outrageous!!

    I have been trying to follow this story in my local paper for the last couple of issues. I live near Lafontaine/Penetanguishene and receive the Springwater News in my mail. This is an unbelievable story!! It is hard to believe there is another viewpoint when I read the way the central office treats the camp groups! There was a letter in one issue from someone in “headquarters” and it was full of rhetoric and platitudes!!

    Do you have a petition going?
    How do you intend to fight this? Is there not a National level you can go to??
    What about setting up a different group? Guiding North Ontario or some such thing??

    Please add me to your email list. I would love to support you in this fight.
    Dave Shepherds letter should be something that you approach the Toronto Star with and have them take up the fight… no one does Investigative reporting like the Star and I think they would love this story. Maybe Rosie Dimano was a Guide??

    Good luck in your fight..

    Barry Goode

  2. Dave Shepherd permalink

    To the brave people who are standing up to the outrageous situation created by Provincial Council: Hang in there. You are not alone. This fight is far from finished. Why don’t you contact the investigative reporters at W5 or CBC’s Fifth Estate? In these issues, nothing less than the future of the Guiding institution in Ontario is at stake. You have my respect and admiration for the stand you have taken against tyranny.

    Dave Shepherd
    Trail Captain
    Camp Tewateno

  3. Carol S. permalink

    Lori showed up and called 911 while the assessors were there. They not only grabbed the phone out of her hand after she dialed, but ripped the phone off the wall so she couldn’t use it.

    What a group. Thanks for being “honest and true”, Province.

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