The Kiwanis Club of Ridgetown will soon take over operations and liability of the Scout Hut.
Chatham-Kent Council amended a motion to have the Kiwanis Club of Ridgetown take over operations and liability for the ‘Scout Hut’ on Ebenezer Street after multiple councillors spoke up to ensure other service groups retained the same level of access.
Councillor John Wright put forth a motion to have Chatham Kent enter into a legal agreement with the Kiwanis Club of Ridgetown, chartered in 1947, to lease the building for a three-year period at $1 per year as a pilot project.
“Both Rotary and Kiwanis were invited to a meeting, and we discussed the different ways in how this would work,” said Wright presenting the motion.
Wright said the Kiwanis were trying to take the building over, but had no desire to kick the Scouts out. He added it would be called the Ridgetown Community Centre.
According to the local councillor, the result of the discussion was that the groups utilizing the space would help pay for utilities with a $50 weekly or weekend fee.
“The building is a good building, but it needs a bunch of updates. The Kiwanis are willing to take that on, with some [funding] coming from grants and some from donations and fundraisers,” said Wright, adding that the space would not be permitted to be rented for events with alcohol.
Wright, who is also a Kiwanian, said the Club would “make sure the building is being used.”
Councillor Steve Pinsonneault said he’d received calls from concerned Scout leaders — who pay nothing for the use of the building right now — but acknowledged the values of the Kiwanis Club were focused on allowing kids to flourish. He added the $50-a-week fee was very affordable.
“This pilot project could be the start of something good, where we can offload the costs of running these buildings from these service clubs, but they get the benefit of the building,” he said.
According to Pinsonneault, the community will see a clear benefit at the end of the three-year pilot project.
“It’s a win-win for everybody,” he said. Councillor Anthony Ceccacci said while the proposal sounded great and that he was supportive of the initiative, he was worried about the amount of consultation that was undergone with the Scout groups.
Ceccacci put forth a new motion to ask the pilot project be referred until further details could be prepared.
“There’s nothing right now from a documentation standpoint that ensures the Cubs [would have their spot],” he said, suggesting that a report on the feasibility and partner implications could be referred back to council for a later review.
Councillor Latimer was also “all for the premise” of the motion. However, she would have liked to see the pilot project “ensured access” for the current users, like Scouts.
“I would like to see what the plan is for stakeholder engagement going forward,” she said.
She added she is looking for details on ways the space would be booked — and a plan for what happens post-pilot.
“It’s really important to have [these details] if we’re going to be looking to expand this project,” she said.
While all of the council seemed supportive of the pilot project, the motion was deferred, being amended to first complete a report on the feasibility of the agreements with service groups, as well as more details on the general operations under the Kiwanis Club.
It’s estimated it would take 2-3 months to work through the stakeholder input and reporting process.
According to Dave Taylor, Legal Services Director, it would still take 1-2 months even if the original motion had passed.
Council failed Ceccacci’s motion after Wright agreed to amend the initial motion, adding a second statement that the details requested would be provided prior to final approval of the pilot project. The amended initial motion passed 16-0.
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News