Implications of youth centre closure to be considered by city
Mayor makes a motion to look at variety of questions
| Posted: Saturday, Sep 21, 2013 06:00 am
Has a void been left by the closure of the St. Albert Youth Community Centre?
On Monday, city council voted unanimously in favour of a motion brought forward by Mayor Nolan Crouse to have staff report back in March 2014 with information surrounding any void left by the closure. His motion requested an assessment of the impacts of the closure from staff along with recommendations on if a program or policy should be developed.
Other questions asked by the motion is what the Social Master Plan says that is relevant, whether or not any provincial or federal funding going to the centre might be available to the municipality, how programs handled by the centre are being handled now and how they should be handled, whether or not funding for the rental is still required and if clubhouses around the city could be opened for the youth.
“We haven’t really taken a quality policy look,” Crouse said, noting there is no current city or council policy about youth or youth development.
He said since the closure of the centre he’s spotted large groups of youth in Lions Park, some of which he recognizes from the youth centre.
“I’m asking lots of questions here,” Crouse said. “I do believe the answers should be thought about.”
Crouse said the city was providing about $100,000 for the youth centre’s rent, and said he’s concerned someone’s going to “jump” on an answer on what to do with the funds.
Coun. Malcolm Parker said he was pleased the mayor had brought the motion forward and said the closure has left a void. “There is a need for a gathering place,” Parker said.
Coun. Cam MacKay said he believes the parents should do the majority of raising a child, and asked what role – if any – the city should have, and whether the community might be filling the void itself.
“Are we creating community with this or are we cutting community out?” MacKay asked. He said he’d support the motion because it was open-ended, and said they should be open to the idea there might be no municipal role.
Coun. Cathy Heron also said she’d support the motion because of its openness but said they need to take a look at the balance between what the city provides and what the community does.
“I think the community needs to take more of a role,” she said, noting she has heard that the Salvation Army is considering putting on some drop-in programs.
Cpl. Laurel Kading said in an interview that the RCMP have noted an increase in activity this summer at Lions Park.
“This summer we have noted an increase in some use, it’s kind of a specific group hanging out in Lions Park. We try to have a presence with them,” Kading said.
There have been at least two cases of vandalism in the bathrooms at the park this summer, she said. On a recent visit in the evening to the park with another officer, Kading said she saw the group but there were also families and a church group who didn’t have any concerns.
She didn’t know if the youth in the park had an association with the closed youth centre. “I would suggest that some of them are there because they don’t have somewhere else to be,” Kading said.
Lions Park is the main place where they’ve been seeing activity of this sort, she said. She estimated the group could be between 10 to 25 youth, and said it seems to have a consistent presence at the park. There have always been some issues in Lions Park, Kading said, but this summer has seen an increase in activity.