Operation Assertion i.e. Save the Carleton Hall

Two days ago, a decision was made to sell the Carleton Hall in East Vancouver at the end of this Scouting Year.

All this over $15,000.

The Numbers

For many years the caretakers of the hall have been asking for help, but not receiving much. Old revenue streams dried up. The Legion that rented the hall at times and donated money folded sometime during the last year, and the rules changed for Direct Access Grants, cutting out that source.

Annual cost to run the hall is $4000. They’ve raised $1700 of that for this year. Usually they can cover the $4000.

Now you may be thinking, “Where does that $15,000 number come from?” That’s five to ten thousand for a new roof, and another ten thousand for other long term repairs and slush fund. Now don’t get me wrong, it won’t fall apart without these repairs, but they still have to be done.

The Hall is assessed at $575,000. When the first mention of selling the property came out, the meeting turned into vultures. So now we have to convince them that selling the Hall is a bad idea, with them firmly gazed affixed on that shiny morsel of a number. Who even knows where that money would disappear to.

The History

I’ll fill this in as we gather more.

  • Moved to the current site from it’s original just north of where it sits now, the Hall has been around since 1947.
  • The current home of 1st South Vancouver

The Bull Shit

At the meeting, quite a few things came up that lead me and others to break the glass, and bring out the emergency Clue-Bat.

  1. The hall committee had found some people willing to help out with fixing the roof and writing grant applications. The problem was they aren’t registered members of Scouts Canada, and the people at that meeting told the hall committee point blank they couldn’t help unless registered.
  2. “Rovers who are aging out and are not willing to work with a younger section do not a have a role in Scouts Canada”

Yeah. WTF. That second golden nugget came out of someone’s mouth when the suggestion was brought to the table that some of the Rovers in 1st South Van, those who are or are approaching the end of the Rover program, were willing to help and become the Hall committee. They basically said they can’t help out. Scouts Canada is desperate to find support for this and other initiatives, and they shot them away. Why not let the Rovers worry about the hall, leaving more time for the already busy leaders to concentrate on the Youth Program. We are suppose to support the leaders, not chase away help!
Not everyone is willing to be a Leader. That’s fine. Then why don’t we find a meaningful role for them. I’d rather have 4 Leaders in a group, and 10 support people than 5 Leaders and no support people. We cannot survive if we only have one job description for all volunteers.

The Plan

Well, there are two things to fix.

  1. A $15,000 infusion of cash to fix the long term maintenance problems
  2. A plan to demonstrate that the long term sustainability of the hall is possible.

That, or devalue the property such that the shiny number doesn’t look so shiny.
Current (not necessarily valid) ideas are:

  1. Get the building listed as a heritage building and protected from destruction
  2. Go on a massive crime spree in the neighbourhood, bringing down property values. But Nick, that takes time to affect property values, you say. Well that’s just how massive it will be.
  3. Poltergeist. I say we volunteer Mark.
  4. Ship in radioactive waste. ie. National’s record

Ok, enough silliness. Onward to the real solutions.

Mark has done some wonderful research, and found that theatre groups are always looking for practice space, which the Hall would fit to a T. At $80 a day, which is ridiculously competitive, we would need to find enough rentals for 50 days a year. If a theatre group were to book the hall it would most likely be in two week (10 paying days) blocks. That 50 day is looking fairly easy.

Other potential groups have already even been identified.

Of course there’s always a catch. Insurance. 3rd party to be more precise. We would have to solve this first, then conquer the world we can rent out the hall.

Of course we could just raise $575,000 and just buy the Hall. But that’s a lot of pop bottles and manure to shovel.

The call

We need everyone. If we are going to save the hall, we are going to need an outpouring of support. Share your ideas, no matter how crazy, silly, incomplete or backwards they may seem. We’ll probably call for a meeting at the hall next week to see how we can move forward. We will assert our ability to keep this hall.

17 responses to “Operation Assertion i.e. Save the Carleton Hall

  1. But I don’t wanna be a poltergeist!

    Seriously though, most theatre companies have liability insurance of their own. We just have to verify that they have it. Plus, if the actors are being paid, they’re covered by worksafe regardless of what happens.

  2. But Mark, it’d be totally convincing…. :p

    Adam suggests arson. So long as there’s proper insurance on the building. Though… Mightn’t SC just sell it anyways, then?

    It definitely is a lot of pop cans and manure.

    Anyway. Is there any way for us to find corporate sponsors of any sort? Granted, finding corporate sponsors who are willing to contribute without at lease a logo-posting are… somewhat few and far between. Anybody know the SC rules on advertising in meeting spaces?

  3. I also vote MNark for the poltergeist :p

    Well, the Rover Formal 7th was hosting was post-poned, but there is no reason why you couldn’t host a formal on the mainland, with proceeds going to the hall.
    Because you have more Rovers in a more centralised area (slash have more access to transiting/whatever to have people show to events), you could probably make yourselves a couple hundred dollars. Not much, but a start.

    And yes, lots of pop bottles, but it can work. I financed my trip to BA04 by collecting the bottles from my local Timmy’s twice a week. (The trip was a couple thousand dollars.) It tooks awhile and was a shitty deal, but it adds up. (I also got to be Excellent at sorting.)

    As for corporate sponsership, approach companies that are environmentaly-friendly/oriented, to keep the same outdoors-friendly theme going. (companies like MEC, for example.) And see if they’d be willing to have a small logo. You could always get a small banner made up with the corporate sponsers and hang it on the wall in the kitchen or something.

  4. These comments and some of the text sound pretty glib for something that is as serious as a heart attack. If Council has decided that they want a quick cash grab to top up their pensions and redecorate their offices then you’ll need to take the threatened sale a whole lot more seriously if you want to keep the hall. Or have you resigned yourselves to the sale?

    • On the contrary, we are resigned to the sale not happening. We have plans in the works, research happening and new contacts being forged. I’m sure most of it will be shared here in rapid succession.

      Unlike some councils, ours is not hard pressed for cash. Not that $575,000 wouldn’t be turned aside.

      I do have the same fear that you seem to write about. That this is decision is not about the hall’s finances, but something else’s finances. We will tell in time if they respond in a rational way according to what we know or if something else happens.
      Nick Pearson

  5. Sounds to me like its time to “go back to the future” with Traditional Scouting. No paid bureaucrats. No high registration fees. Any money the group earns stays with the Group. On and on and on ! Just like Scouting was prior to 1968 when B-P’s ideas and plans were thrown out here in Canada. Funny thing though. His ideas are still working in the rest of the world after 100 yrs.

    Wanna talk ? email me.

    • What changed in 1968? I’d be interested to know. I’m drawing a blank, but obviously something happened that year that was quite momentousness.

      As to the rest of the world, I have been there. In many ways, Scouts Canada is doing better at fulfilling the original intent of creating engaged, active and capable citizens. Not across the board better, but some glimmers of hope.
      Nick Pearson

  6. Maybe it’s time to say goodby to the idea of having “your own” hall. Because it’s not “your own” ! It’s Scouts Canada’s and they will do with it what they choose (and pay-day comes once a month) so maybe it’s time to go back to being the youth program for some local church and get the use of their facilities for free. Yes, I know that most churches have walked away from Scouts Canada because HQ was always after money from the churches, but Traditional Scouting doesn’t exist solely for the benefit of those fat-assed bureaucrats who “slop at the trough” and live off the backs, and of the efforts of the kids.

    Wanna talk? email me ! (o:{

    • Perhaps the Bureaucrats only live in the environment we built for them. If we built a pen with fence that runs up to a lake, we have no right to complain when the pigs muck up the lake. Who’s fault is that?

      Also, it is not the paid staff making this decision but the volunteers in trusted positions. You are correct in your reasoning that the Scout hall is not ours, but Scouts Canada. However, Scouts Canada is not a faceless monolithic organization. Pressure can be made to do the right and honourable decision.

      We still live by a promise and law.
      Nick Pearson
      Twitter: @CotP_DoM

    • It’s not ‘our’ hall. It is a property of Scouts Canada. It just so happens that our group is the primary user; thus, we have a vested interest in what happens to it. And I think you’re talking about the BPSA with your ‘alternative’, a step which many in our crew have discussed, but aren’t yet ready to entertain, especially if, by staying in Scouts Canada, we have a chance to save the hall.

  7. Contact SCOUT eh! for advice on this. properties cannot be taken lightly. SCOUT eh! has advised other groups on property sales. Maybe your company should start a holding company to hold the building at arm’s length. I’m no lawyer but there has to be some kind of work around.
    Also, fundraising that kind of money should be relatively easy. Get creative. Use the local media. Galvanize the local Scouting community and the neighbourhood. Community has clout! Use it.

    • Thanks for the encouragement. We will be contacting any and every one who has experience running a Scout hall.

      The idea a 3rd party property management group came up, and it was unceremoniously shot down from what I hear. We are still looking into models that have worked for other halls to give examples to the decision makers.

      The operating funds for the year can be found, of that I’m sure. It’s other issues I think will be the bigger obstacles.
      We will tell in time if they respond in a rational way according to what we know or if something else happens.
      Nick Pearson

    • Agreed. Input is awesome. We suggested to the Council the idea of a bunch of Rovers who are aging out soon to register as a guild to manage and take care of the hall. Because Guild is not part of Scouts Canada, the defensive shields were raised that SC would ‘lose control of the hall to an outside group’, the same as basically handing it over to a management company. The hall is supposed to be operating seperate from a group; that’s why it’s the ‘Carleton Hall’, and the ‘1st South Vancouver group’, not the ‘1st South Vancouver Hall’.

  8. Hey guys, let me know where to send the cheque. Or set up PayPal account. Also, most groups that would want to rent probably already carry liability insurance or could get it fairly cheaply.

    Deryck Robertson
    15th Peterborough Salvation Army Scout Group

  9. If you have folks (former Rovers) who are now too old to register as Rovers but who would like to help with hall maintenance, then wouldn’t it be worth it to register them as group committee members? The group could pay whatever registration is required plus the PRC cost if any in exchange for labour on the hall. Seems like a no brainer to me.

    • The hall is not one and the same with the Group that uses it. The logic was that any debts that the hall may incur would not be responsible for bankrupting a (at the time) fledgling, and still quite small, group. The idea is that we can come up with the money to replace the roof and come up with a long term plan for sustainability and ongoing capital projects, then they may reverse the decision. That’s the hope we’re working off of.

  10. I see your still having the same problems we had years ago when it was the 7th hall. Well, good hunting with this project. Let s not lose another piece of history in the Scouting movement. So its the South district now,cool. We were the 159th Rover Crew there for years when it was Carleton District and could not get the right monies/funds either. Is the 7th cabin still being rented out by Scout House on Seymour mountain or has that be burned to the ground as threaten by the power that be on Seymour Mountain Park.Its an ole army reserve cabin that could hold hundreds. Was very well made, but they would not let the Scouting do repairs to foundation because of environment reasons and it has to go back to nature. If any organization knows about environment it is the Scouting Movement(Irony).Nice to see your still working at it Nick, all the best & Service.

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