The decommissioning of the 2nd Airdrie Scout's longstanding headquarters later this summer will mark the end of an era.
The Airdrie Scout Hall, located near East Lake Regional Park, was constructed in the 1970s and has been the Scout troop’s home base since 1986. Due to structural issues, the building – which is owned by the City of Airdrie – will be decommissioned in the coming months.
Senior Scout Leader Keith Yeoman said the hall was built on a wood foundation, rather than cement, which has caused the basement walls to bow over time.
“It had a certain lifespan with the wood foundation – I don’t know what it was rated at – but what is happening is the ground on the outside wants to come into the basement,” he said.
Yeoman – who has been with 2nd Airdrie Scouts for 13 years – said the structural issues have been known since he joined the organization. Braces were added to the basement a few years ago by the City in order to provide a short-term fix.
Now, 2nd Airdrie Scouts has until the end of June to vacate the premises, Yeoman said.
According to the municipality, Airdrie City council made the "tough decision" last year to decommission the building, providing the local Scout troop one year's notice. A one month extension was granted because of COVID-19, and the City said it also offered 2nd Airdrie Scouts the option to move the building off-site.
“Unfortunately, they were unable to take us up on the offer and we understand, as the costs to them would have been high,” the City stated. “We continue to work with them on alternate arrangements for their future meeting places.”
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According to a statement from the City, decommissioning is "the last step in the lifecycle management of a facility.”
“Improvements and/or upgrades to the facility are no longer cost effective," the City stated. "In this case, removal of the structure and remediation of the site is the project outcome. The contractor is scheduled to mobilize to the site, the week of July 6.”
Airdrie’s scouting community is disheartened to see the building go, Yeoman said. Airdrie Scout Hall has been the troop's home for more than 34 years and has served more than 2,000 local scouts.
“We’re really disappointed in the City’s decision with the building, especially the long-term leaders like myself and some others who have been there for six, seven years,” he said.
There are roughly 80 families within 2nd Airdrie Scouts, who use the building for meetings, storage and other scout-related functions. Yeoman, who was a scout in Calgary during his youth, said he has two sons who have been involved with the local troop for much of their lives. He said the program provides opportunities for youth to learn new talents, develop leadership skills and engage with their community.
Other non-profit groups have used the facility as well, he added.
According to Yeoman, he’s likely spent more time working on maintenance for the Airdrie Scout Hall than his own house.
“Some of us have put a lot of time into that building and it means a lot,” he said. “We’ve done $3,000 in lighting, a whole bunch of new cabinets, new flooring and new big windows.”
Yeoman said it is also disappointing that 2nd Airdrie Scouts and its alumni members will not be able to give the building a proper send-off, due to continued restrictions on Scouts Canada activities because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were going to do a big barbecue to thank the city and say goodbye to the hall," he said. "But COVID came and shut down everything we had planned.”
The local Scout troop is unsure where it will meet in the future, Yeoman said. He suggested renting space at schools is one possibility, given the lack of community centres in the city.
According to Yeoman, the troop is also in discussions with the City on what to do with a shed in front of the hall where people deposit bags of empty bottles that Scout members return to the bottle depot.
“It’s a big revenue source for us to keep things affordable for youth,” he said.
According to the City, there are currently no plans in place for the land the building sits on.