By James Matthews
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
With the pandemic winding down, Scouts Canada is itching to get back to the Haliburton Scout Reserve.
Kevin Anyan, manager of property operations at Scouts Canada’s National Service Centre, lobbied Dysart et al. town council March 28 for a little help to improve accessibility to the property.
“We have literally hit a road block,” Anyan said.
Both lanes of Kennaway Road are plowed only a certain distance before its whittled down to a single lane with a groomed snowmobile trail. Elsewhere, there are downed power lines that need to be removed.
“Without access to our property, we can’t get staff in to revitalize the property and get ready for the camping season,” he said.
Now that the snowmobile season is over and much of the groomed trail has melted, Anyan said he’d like to see the road plowed about 750 metres beyond the reserve’s west entrance to the downed power lines. That way, power can be restored.
“We realize that snowmobiling is a great sport and part of the community and is important to the local economy,” Anyan said.
What we are requesting is that the final four kilometres to the west gate be opened in the same manner as the previous two kilometres.
Mayor Murray Fearrey said he’d consult municipal staff about the road request.
“But our resources are pretty well tapped,” Fearrey said.
Anyan said the plan is to have the reserve opened year-round with somebody there two or three weekends of every winter month.
“But we do have staff that would need to get in two or three days a week,” he said.
Scouts has been co-ed since 1998 and offers programming for youth five years old to adults 26 years old.
“We have thousands of scouts and scouters with marvelous memories of the Haliburton Scout Reserve, Canada’s largest scouting property,” Anyan said.
With enrollment numbers rebounding since the pandemic, now is the time to reopen the property, he said.
“And expand the seasonal experience to include shoulder seasons and eventually the winter season,” he said.
Girls Guides, Outward Bound, and similar third-party groups would like to share the property.
“With over 5,000 acres and 11 lakes, we have lots of space,” Anyan said.
International troops have also expressed interest in experiencing the Haliburton area.
Fearrey said the township is pretty cash-strapped to take on additional winter road maintenance.
“I think you can probably generate enough revenue off that property to look after the road yourselves,” the mayor said.
“I’m not being harsh about this. We all know the great job that the Boy Scouts do and we’re pleased to have you back in the community.”
Fearrey said he’ll get back to the Scouts with a firm answer at a later date.
“We need a solution going forward,” Anyan said. “That’s not necessarily a Dysart solution, but we do need to come up with a solution.”
“There’s lots of solutions,” Fearrey said. “It’s just the matter of who pays the bills.”