Toronto organization looks to revive old camp in Minden Hills
By Chad Ingram
Toronto’s St. Alban’s Boys and Girls Club has purchased a summer camp property in Minden Hills, and its president made a presentation to township councillors during a May 9 meeting.
St. Alban’s purchased the property off of County Road 121, located on 242 acres with 7,000 feet of shoreline on Howland Lake, last year. The club was founded in 1949 as a boys’ sports club meeting in the basement of St. Alban’s Parish Hall in Toronto. As president Don Stewart informed councillors, the club is today non-denominational when it comes to religion; St. Alban’s is simply its namesake. Girls became a part of the club in the 1960s, and it was renamed the St. Alban’s Boys and Girls Club in the 1970s.
Today, the club operates in four Toronto communities, one in York Region, and has a total of about 800 kids per day partaking in mostly after-school programming, with some 3,000 in all taking part in programs.
The plan for the camp is to focus on outdoor and wilderness experiences.
“It’s very different from programming we run in the city,” Stewart told councillors.
The organization has been making upgrades to the property, including repairs to its dining hall and the refurbishment of a road. The camp, the former Toronto Y.P.U. Camp, has sat unused for about 15 years.
The plan for the summer of 2020 is to offer camping on the site, with about 40 children attending throughout the summer. The presentation also included renderings of communal cabin designs, and by 2029, the plan is to have 12 cabins constructed, with about 1,200 children attending during the course of the summer.
While the club’s regular activities includes programming for daycare-aged children up to those in their early 20s, the camp will focus on activities for those eight to 16 years in age.
Stewart said the club had been utilizing local contractors, would like to make more community connections, and was looking to the township for guidance with planning bylaws, building permits, etc., and Mayor Brent Devolin said they’d be put in touch with township staff.
“Welcome to the neighbourhood,” Devolin said, adding, “We’re as excited as I think you probably are.”
Councillor Jean Neville, noting a number of area camps offer day camps for local kids, said she hoped local children could be included, which Stewart indicated would be a consideration.