2018-09-12

Historical Girl Guide Cabin likely to be sold

by Gayle Wilson

  • <p>GAYLE WILSON PHOTO</p><p>The property at 93 Dominion Street was deeded for the use of the Bridgewater Girl Guides in 1935.</p>

The Town of Bridgewater staff are recommending the town sell the property the Girl Guides have considered their own for the past 84 years.

A report attached to the agenda for the town's council meeting on September 10 suggests the Girl Guides Cabin at 93 Dominion Street is too expensive to maintain and should be sold, with the proceeds given to the charitable organization.

Hearing that a change was imminent, Mikayla Halliday, who grew up as a Girl Guide in Bridgewater, contacted LighthouseNOW.

"I was very shocked when I found out," she said in a telephone interview from Halifax, where she is now at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. "I just couldn't believe it."

Halliday says she always thought of the property "like another home."

The land which the Girl Guide Cabin sits on was deeded to the Town of Bridgewater in 1935, for the "exclusive use of the Girl Guides Association of Bridgewater," according to the town's staff report.

The original log cabin was built on the property in 1934, while the present structure is believed to have been constructed in 1974.

It has two multi-purpose areas, a kitchen, two washrooms, storage area and six parking spots.

In December, town staff met with the Girl Guides administration looking to get approximately $7,500 a year to help cover its nearly $10,000 a year operating cost and an estimated $100,000 in capital costs to upgrade the roofing, heating, electricity and accessibility infrastructure in the aging facility.

"That figure was identified as unsustainable for the Girl Guides," notes the report submitted by the town's chief administrative officer, Richard MacLellan.

Following discussions in a meeting on April 19 with national, provincial and local Girl Guides Canada representatives, it was agreed that the most sustainable steps were to declare the property surplus, sell it, and provide the net proceeds, less legal and real estate fees, to Girl Guides Canada.

"This action will help ensure the sustainability of the organization in Bridgewater and relive the town taxpayer of subsidizing the building," MacLellan wrote in his report.

Halliday concedes Bridgewater's Girl Guides are in a "unique situation" because not many groups have their own building.

"I don't think there are any others in Nova Scotia like what we have here."

She worries the decision will limit the group's program opportunities.

As well as regular meetings, she says the cabin is used for special events such as yard sales, and that it affords them space to store the sale materials in advance.

There are also sleepovers, which are made easier and cheaper with the kitchen in the facility.

As a leader with Girl Guides in Halifax, she says you can still do programming with church halls and other venues. But activities have to be designed to fit the venue.

"Most definitely it's not the same," she says.

The Bridgewater Fire Department had written to the town requesting it remove the building, at its cost, and give the land to the fire department for its "future endeavours."

However, MacLellan's report suggests the request is "financially challenging," and that the property "is not the town's to 'give.'"

Town staff had not yet had an appraisal of the property, however the assessed value was noted at $171,200.

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