Youth centre warns of closure by year's end
Board wants $175,000 commitment to continue operations
By: Peter Boer
| Posted: Saturday, Aug 04, 2012 06:00 am
A letter from the Youth Community Centre board stating it will close down the facility Dec. 31 if it not does not receive a substantial funding commitment by the city is meant as a “reality check,” not a threat, says a board member.
The board sent an open letter to St. Albert city council on Monday. The intent, said board member Paul Quantz, is meant to spell out exactly what a May decision to withhold future Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) funding will mean for the youth centre.
“The intent of the letter is to alert city council of the effects of their decision to cease funding the drop-in program at the youth centre and to let them know that, without more time and continued funding, we don’t see the operation as being viable anymore,” Quantz said.
The letter states that, unless the centre receives a $175,000 commitment from city council by the end of August, it will be forced to cease operations at the end of 2012.
“Without that commitment, we have to start giving notices and advising people,” Quantz said, who pointed out the request is less than what the centre typically receives through grant funds.
Council unanimously approved a community services advisory board request in May to fund the youth centre for the rest of 2012 but no further. A later news release outlined the reasons behind the decision, which included duplication of programs between the youth centre and the city and the view that programs like the drop-in centre weren’t preventative in nature.
A view presented in the press release suggests the city should concentrate on its ongoing 40 assets program, which aims to foster positive traits – or assets – in youth.
The board’s letter points out that the youth centre provides a place and programming for youth who might not be served by city or FCSS services, such as youth from broken or blended families, who need a positive, safe environment.
“These teens that predominantly attend are those that would be lower on the continuum of the 40 developmental assets than a lot of other programming for youth,” Quantz said. “So our plea to the city is don’t leave behind the vulnerable kids and shift the funding to the more asset-enriched youth.”
But Coun. Roger Lemieux, who, along with Coun. Malcolm Parker met with the board on July 4 to discuss its options, characterized the letter as a threat.
“That threat does not sit well with me because we have in-house programming through FCSS for youth so it’s not that we’re betraying youth,” Lemieux said. “We have that now. I don’t understand the threat.”
Lemieux and Parker met Friday morning. Parker will arrange a meeting with members of the board to follow up on the July 4 discussion, which the youth centre letter describes as positive but also says was not followed up with feedback or direction as promised.
“The major things sticking out is the fact that clearly the FCSS funding is meant for preventative programs and the sense was the money and funding hadn’t been directed to those kind of things,” Parker said. “If money was, it was also duplicating programs done in the community.”
With council on summer break until Aug. 20, bringing the issue back before council could be difficult, if any of the councillors even want to, said Mayor Nolan Crouse.
“[The youth centre board] transferred the ball back to council on its plan to shut-down and we have to re-assess. There’s no real process to do that,” Crouse said, adding he still hadn’t heard from the majority of council.
Quantz said the youth centre might make a presentation to council at one of the final two meetings of the month depending on how council reacts to the letter.
“We were going to wait until we saw what response we got from city council and we are prepared to make a presentation but the decision hasn’t been made to make that presentation,” Quantz said. “We are waiting to hear back from council.”