A scouting group in Yennadon is worried that they might have to find a new place to call home after an offer has been accepted for the sale of the Eagles Hall along Fern Crescent.
If the subjects are removed, the hall and the land that it sits on will be in the hands of a developer, and that doesn’t sit right for 1st Yennadon Scouts administration and registrar, Tamara Waugh, and group commissioner Cory Krausher.
They would like to see the hall back with the scouts group – who initially allowed the Fraternal Order Eagles Aerie and Auxiliary #2831 to have the property in 1987 for $1, with the assumption of an $85,000 mortgage because the scouting group was bankrupt at the time.
Waugh and Krausher are now trying to save the hall for use by the youth of the community.
“What I would like to see happen is for the Eagles to do the right thing and hand over the hall back to us and let us manage it and carry the legacy on,” said Waugh.
However, Waugh clarified, the Eagles have been fantastic to them and they are not in a feud with the Maple Ridge order.
“They’ve provided us with extremely low rent for many, many, many years. They’ve kept us in the loop of the entire sell process and this is not something that we’re doing because we dislike them in any way,” said Waugh.
The lands were first donated to the Yennadon Youth Association in 1928 by a Maple Ridge family who wanted the land to stay within the youth association, explained Waugh. After the Eagles acquired it, they built the hall, which was completed in 1992.
The 1st Yennadon Scouting group has been using the hall for various activities for more than two decades.
Waugh explained they first found out about the property going up for sale on Oct. 17, after a meeting with Eagles secretary Gerry Acton, and trustee Dave Rodway.
They were told the history of the hall, the reasons behind selling it, and how sad the Eagles organization was to have to sell the land – that they didn’t want to see the hall go, and in an ideal world, the person who bought it would be able to keep it as is. However, they told them that their members were getting old, they had no new memberships, no one wanted to help them run the hall, and they were doing a lot of work just to break even.
A second meeting was held on Nov. 8 between the two groups where Waugh and Krausher were hoping to propose a plan to keep the hall, however, it was too late. They were told that an acceptable offer had been made to the Eagles of $3.7 million for the property, that is just shy of one acre, by a developer – subjects to be removed by Jan. 7.
“Reading the room, it seemed they would have gone with that option if we had presented it sooner,” said Krausher.
Waugh and Krausher were also told by the Eagles that the order had approached the City of Maple Ridge to purchase the land at a reduced rate from the listed price of $3.9 million, so the hall could be used as a community centre, but the city declined.
Christine Carter, general manager of planning and development with the City of Maple Ridge confirmed that the realtor representing the owner of the property did approach the city to see if there was interest in purchasing it.
“Given the location, size and property designation, it did not fit into the City’s Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan or other Strategic Plans,” said Carter, adding that there was no other proposal on the table other than the offer to purchase the property.
“The City recognizes that that the Eagles Hall holds a special place in the community and has served as a gathering place for many groups and families over the years,” noted Carter, however, she said the hall is a privately owned facility.
Carter said the city has not been provided with any formal notice that the ownership has changed on the site at this time. And, if a future owner intended to use the property for commercial or residential use, she explained, a rezoning application will be required, and there will be a transparent public process, including a development information meeting and a public hearing.
“No application has been received to date so we have no details on the current or future owners,” she confirmed.
When contacted by The News, Fraternal Order Eagles Aerie and Auxiliary #2831 president Dick Penner, said he was not prepared to answer any questions about the sale of the property at this time.
“We’re not discussing any of it with anybody until everything is final,” he said. “We are waiting for subjects to be removed and, so far, that hasn’t happened.”
Penner said he does not know who the property was sold to and that the deal is going through a real estate agent.
“Once all the subjects are removed then we’ll be able to comment more,” he said.
If the deal goes through, 1st Yennadon Scouts will need a new meeting place.
Waugh explained the group uses the hall two times a week to meet, in addition to special events like their Santa pancake breakfast, barbecues during the year, lessons in carpentry, camp, and sleepovers.
“It’s a huge problem,” said Waugh. “There is not a single other space in all of Silver Valley or the Yennadon lands area for us to relocate to.”
Krausher added that there is no perfect space for them, because not only was the hall used by the scouts, but they also use the 900-square-foot storage area in the basement to keep all of their equipment.
“A couple of places I’ve looked at, they’ve got a nice facility, but they have no room for any of our equipment, and vice versa,” he said.
Or, he said, the facility is located too far away, outside of the Yennadon area.
Waugh, with the help of Jana Tulloch, started a petition online that has since closed with 1,974 signatures to save the Yennadon Eagle’s Hall that she is going to be delivering to city hall.
And it is not just the Eagles Hall that she is concerned about. There is a historic cabin on the property called The Rovers Den, that is one of the subjects of approval to the deal – that it is either demolished or removed.
“If this sale goes through and the subjects pass on Jan. 7, this is a massive loss to the entire community,” said Waugh, adding that she has spoken with thousands of people who have a memory associated with the hall.
“It’s like the heart of our community. It just cannot be developed in this way,” she said.
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