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In the News: Clash over Camp Caritou

by on October 23, 2011

Clash over Camp Caritou
Friends take legal action
October 15, 2011

The Friends of Camp Caritou have started legal proceedings against Girl Guides of Canada in an attempt to save their camp.

Girl Guides of Canada announced in 2009 nearly half of its Ontario camps would close, including Caritou, a 42-acre parcel on Lake Nosbonsing in Bonfield

All four Northern Ontario camps were slated for closure, as well as seven of 12 in southwestern Ontario and two of 10 in the Golden Horseshoe and Greater Toronto Area.

Friends of Camp Caritou president Cindy Brownlee said the non-profit group formed by local Guiders felt it had no choice but to challenge the decision to sell Camp Caritou and has filed a statement of claim.

In the claim, the Friends of Camp Caritou are asking to use the camp and have access to $40,000 previously sent to Girl Guides of Canada for maintenance of the property.

Marcia Powers-Dunlop, provincial commissioner of Ontario and Nunavut Girl Guides, said the organization has been served legal papers and is reviewing them.

“Being served has stalled everything,” she said Friday afternoon, declining to comment further.

Powers-Dunlop said there have been suits launched in other areas of the province, but she couldn’t give an exact number.

Powers-Dunlop, who took over the position in June, said Camp Caritou remains on the list of camps to be sold, however it has yet to be listed on the real estate market.

“It’s heartbreaking. I know their blood, sweat and tears went into this (camp),” she said.

“It’s not an easy decision or living with the after-effects and I honestly understand both sides. We have a number of properties and it’s becoming financially hard to carry and maintain them, and keep them safe for the girls.”

Don Wallace of Wallace Klein Partners in Law LLP, which is working with the Friends of Camp Caritou, said the 24-page document details how Camp Caritou was acquired and its long history.

According to the statement of claim, “The plaintiffs plead that the GGC (Girl Guides of Canada) used its position of power over the local executive council beginning as early as 1993 and in particular in 2004 to obtain title to Camp Caritou to the detriment of the local Guides.”

The statement of claim also says, “the local Guides will not benefit from the sale of the property. The local Guides have been deprived of an easily accessible site for camping, a sense of history and tradition, and the ability to attract and retain local Guides has been negatively affected such that the larger organization correspondingly suffers. The local Guides have suffered a loss from the decision to shut down and sell Camp Caritou.”

None of the allegations in statement of claim have been proven in court.

Girl Guides have already sold several camps and properties across Ontario.

Brownlee said it was never her group’s intention to bring the issue to court.

“This was never our first step. We thought we could work out our differences,” Brownlee said. “It’s very disheartening.”

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