TESS, Toronto Eesti Skaudisõprade Selts, translated in the title here, will be marking its 60th anniversary of maintaining and funding Kotkajärve in Muskoka. TESS is an independent, private, non-profit nonshare capital corporate entity that was organized in 1951 and incorporated on August 11, 1954 primarily for the purpose of sponsoring and supporting Estonian scouting and guiding youth organizations and their activities.
TESS is the owner of lands and premises known as Camp Kotkajärve. The lands and premises were acquired by TESS beginning in 1953 for the purpose of providing permanent, shared, camping, educational, and recreational facilities to Estonian-Canadian scouting and guiding organizations.
Since 1956 TESS has leased certain Kotkajärve premises that are surplus to camp requirements to some TESS members for their own private use and enjoyment as seasonal recreational properties (Cottage Lots). Debentures were issued, as part of financing the building up of Kotkajärve, with the understanding that TESS would pay out the debentures when the time came. A debenture is effectively a loan.
These leases have not only served TESS’ stated sponsor goals by ensuring an active local community supportive of Camp objectives but also have provided financial support through the leased lands. While the cottages belong to the leaseholder, the land belongs to TESS, thanks to the way the system was set up to ensure continuation of non-profit status.
Arrangements, understandings, agreements and accommodations made between TESS and the various tenants were incomplete and inchoate until the 1970’s, when increasing government regulation and scrutiny obliged TESS to commission professional surveys of the Cottage Lots. This led to a wholesale restatement of all leases, which were all issued simultaneously for terms of 21 years, less one day. These leases expired at the end of April 12, 2014.
New leases have been offered at the same 21 years less a day to all current leaseholders. However, the board of directors of TESS has not been successful in reaching every single debenture holder or lot lessee. Hence this public appeal for those who may not have been aware of the expiry of the leases. This may be due to a number of reasons – death, moving, not being involved with the community. NB! It is the responsibility of every TESS member to advise TESS of any changes in address.
Under the new Lease Renewal term rent will now have two components every year. A fixed “base rent” (there are three rates depending on the location of the lot) and “additional rent” that may vary from year to year depending on taxes and other cost variables that TESS has little control over.
Existing debenture loans are being paid out and replaced with Security Deposits – the standard “last rental period” of base rent paid in advance by the lessee and held by the lessor to the credit of the lessee. Debenture balances will be credited toward initial payments due and required upon commencement of the new lease.
There is a 90-day grace period for the renewal of leases, and the repayment of debenture loans from April 12, 2014 on; the board is willing to consider special circumstances. After this period the debentures will automatically revert to TESS.
It is the hope of the TESS board of directors that lessees of lots without cottages or those who are simply holders of debentures, who no longer have interest in Kotkajärve will donate the debenture to the Association to ensure funding of maintenance and tax-paying of Kotkajärve. This being said, there is a lot of interest in the younger generation to acquire a Kotkajärve lot or cottage. Perhaps this also merits the consideration of those and their descendants who initially supported Kotkajärve six decades ago.
By mail: 424 Durie Street, Toronto ON M6S 3G4
Or through any TESS board member, whose identities should be known to most friends of Kotkajärve.
Toronto Estonian Scouting Sponsors Association bulletin: lot lease update