Heatherdale 4-H club happy to have hall back, minus the oil tank and $20,000

·3 min read

HEATHERDALE – The Heatherdale Community Club was formed to get the community's hall back in the community's hands.

While the transfer of ownership has happened there are still a few things missing before 4-H meetings can resume there. It includes an oil tank and about $20,000 meant for the hall's restoration, one of the non-profit group's founders said.

Laurie Loane has been working on behalf of the club for a while as it tried to take over the hall from the Town of Three Rivers.

"For the past few years, I've said we would like to take it over," she said. "We want to be in our hall."

The hall's been home to the Heatherdale area's 4-H youth club since the 1950s and it merged with Brooklyn's club over the years. Loane's dad was part of 4-H when he was a kid before going on to lead the group. The same can be said for Loane.

Jill Walsh, Three Rivers' chief administrative officer, told The Guardian that ownership of the Heatherdale community hall was a little hazy between Three Rivers and the province this time last year.

Considering themselves acting owners, Three Rivers decided to close it for liability reasons, namely due to a few broken windows and the aging oil tank, she said.

The 4-H meetings have been on hiatus since early last year, partly due to COVID-19 but also because Three Rivers asked them to move out, boarded the hall up and took the full tank of oil away in January 2020. The 4-H club was permitted to use Lower Montague's hall as a substitute, but it wouldn't have been an efficient solution, Loane said, because it would force members to haul their 4-H projects around more.

"(And) there's pictures back in this hall of when we attended, when Dad attended."

While the community hall was owned by Three Rivers, Heatherdale residents were the ones mopping the floors, planting gardens out front, and shovelling snow off the driveway in the winter. A few of those residents are relatives of Loane.

"(Because) everybody who's gone through 4-H, they stay with it," her brother Wade said.

Loane's nieces, Molly and Chloe, said on top of 4-H's learning components it has been a way for them to volunteer across eastern P.E.I., whether it was planting trees, doing roadside clean-ups or singing Christmas carols at seniors homes.

"It's a great way to be involved in the community," Molly said.

Now that the Heatherdale non-profit organization owns the hall, Loane requested Three Rivers return the tank, with oil inside it, so they can warm the hall up and restart meetings. As well, Loane hopes the $20,000 that was stored away by the former Brooklyn-Heatherdale-Valleyfield CIC is returned, she said.

A few councillors voiced their support for Heatherdale taking over the hall. Mayor Edward MacAulay suggested setting up a meeting by month's end, noting the value of 4-H as an organization and not wanting to prevent it from continuing in Heatherdale.

"I think we're all just happy to be back," Chloe said.

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Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian