Council failing our youth with funding decision

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I was appalled at council’s decision to cut off funding to the Youth Community Centre. To endorse this recommendation of the Community Services Advisory Board (CSAB) without considering the impact that the decision would have on our youth is wrong in every aspect. The ramifications should have been brought out in the council meeting, which would have at least given council members a clear picture of the circumstances they were dealing with.

What and who does this decision impact? Certainly, essential programs that help in developing at-risk young people. Also, this decision has the potential to affect more than 800 youngsters who are registered at the youth centre. This number, according to FCSS director Scott Rodda, is a small group.

“We advocate that service be broader and to a broader range of all youth and to not have a significant investment in a small number of youth,” is what he said.

Is 800 a small number? Not in my book and what about the investment? It works out to be about $18 per youngster.

The CSAB decided to fund the YCC through the rest of this year but won’t extend funding beyond 2012. The city’s agenda report states, “The decision to support the YCC receiving their full year funding was to allow them time to find alternative funding for 2013 should they continue their operation.”

Sounds kind of nice but how many of the people involved in this recommendation and decision have been faced with the challenge of having to raise more than $100,000 in a six-month period? I would hazard a guess and say very few, if any. In fact, the above statement can only be considered as very condescending.

At a recent council meeting quite a considerable discussion occurred about the impact of a dog park and yet our youth were not given the same consideration. Why? Where in the world are we going as a city?

The CSAB is not a judicial panel but rather an advisory group to council so the buck stops squarely on the shoulders of council members.

This is the second decision in the last six months or so whereby a not-for-profit group’s funding has been cut without exploring the impact – first the seniors, now our youth.

CSAB has to follow certain rules and guidelines in their deliberation but council has the ability to consider a recommendation outside those guidelines and consider the impact on our community. Council should have a social conscience when dealing with certain sections of the community. We can’t afford to have a draconian attitude to grant programs that assist vulnerable areas of our community, be they young, old or underprivileged.

I truly believe a community is measured by the way it treats the weakest and most vulnerable members. City council: You failed miserably in making this decision.

A former city councillor, Gareth Jones has developed a passion for the community over more than three decades of living in St. Albert.

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