100 Watts : “Though the Jazz Age continued it became less and less an affair of youth. The sequel was like a children’s party taken over by the elders.”

Storefront_2

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s quote has an unnerving parallel to my column this week has to do with the long time coming, and may never arrive, Aurora Youth Centre.

You can read it here:

V12N07P04.pdf
Download this file

Budget discussions for 2011 touched on the subject of a Youth Centre in this April 14th Era Banner article here:  

In the article Councillor Wendy Gaertner cautioned against adopting the report’s recommendations too hastily and suggested an ad hoc committee be formed.  Given the amount of time and expense potentially involved, more information couldn’t hurt, she said.

“This is why I want to have an ad hoc committee to figure all of these things out.”

Really?

Staff have investigated the requirements and needs of a Youth Centre since 2000.

As a result of a re-established Youth Advisory Committee and survey of youth within the school community and site visits to local centers a repot on a proposed youth centre was prepared in May of 2002.

In 2006 a report on considering the old Hydro building for the purposes of a Youth Centre was submitted by staff.  The pros and cons of which, along with the full report can be viewed here: http://www.town.aurora.on.ca/app/wa/mediaEntry?mediaEntryId=47584

The past term of council, of which Clr. Gaertner was part of, delivered a Master Wreck plan , albeit the component regarding youth programming was almost non existent most likely because the lack of leadership of those on LSAC, and those responsible for re-drafting the report at the last minute after sitting on it for an entire year.

The Wreck plan did however list a Youth Centre as one of the top five highest priority investments for the Town, according to survey participants.

To make up for the work it didn’t do LSAC decided that a seperate $50,000 study was needed, and so it was committed to.

dmA consulting ( http://www.dmaconsulting.com/ ) won the tender and delivered their “2010 Aurora Youth Needs Analysis Aurora” to council.

That report (PR11-005) is available as an attachment to the General Committee meeting of April 5th, Item 7.  You can read it here:

Item 7_PR11-005.pdf
Download this file

In it dmA echoed an entire decade of studies, reports and committees and identified there is a clear need.

The report was not embraced by council. Instead members opted for the deferral to give themselves and staff better opportunity to read and digest the material in the lengthy document, as stated in this Era Banner article here: http://www.yorkregion.com/print/961394

As per the minutes of March 1st : 

THAT Council receive Report PR11-005; and 
THAT Council defer the following recommendations to the March 22, 2011 meeting: 
1.  Council adopt the recommendations outlined in the report. 
2. Council adopt the Implementation Schedule outlined in this report. 
3. The design and construction of a youth centre be placed in the 2011/12 Capital Budget for Council consideration. 

In that meeting both Sport Aurora and Storm Volleyball voiced their support for proceeding with a Youth Centre. Statements from both were included in the attatchments and can be read here: http://www.town.aurora.on.ca/app/wa/mediaEntry?mediaEntryId=58312

When General Committee met on April 5th some of the members seemed to be confident in doing their requsite homework, at least enough to make a decision to move forward on the item.

(7) Deferred from General Committee Meeting of March 1, 2011 (Item 6) 
PR11-005 – Youth Needs Analysis 
Moved by Councillor Pirri  
Seconded by Councillor Abel 
   
THAT Council adopt the recommendations outlined in the report; and 
THAT Council adopt the Implementation Schedule outlined in this report; 
and 
THAT the Terms of Reference for the  Architectural Consultant Study be brought back to General Committee for  review and 
approval prior to the issuance of the Request for Proposal; and 
THAT up to the amount of $50,000 be placed in the 2011 Capital Budget for the Architectural design study of the Youth Centre. 
CARRIED

That was April, now that it is December and council is well into the 2012 budget discussions it looks like the item is surfacing again, unfortunately as an item to consider cutting or once again delay.

In this Era Banner piece Clr. Chris Ballard wants to “rethink” over a decade of studies:

And what bright ideas does Clr. Ballard bring to the table you may ask.

It seems like he has piggybacked on Councillor Evelyn Buck’s suggestion from that April 14th Era Banner article where she argued the town might be just as far ahead to rent a vacant storefront on Yonge Street and run a youth centre pilot program to better determine the desire for such a facility.

Turning storefronts into “drop-in centres” as a means to “guage opionon”.

Pilot programs, drop-in centres?

WTF is with these councillors?

What opionon is it exactly that are you not hearing?

A $50,000 study was conducted at the cost to the town.

Not good enough?

A recent facebook group and petition was formed: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2261332989&v=wall

Didn’t hear them?

Major sports organizations, including “the” major sports association have outlined the need, they came to council and told you.

Is council waiting for some magic report to come back with a different answer?  

Perhaps one that says: there is no need for a Youth Centre, hurray!  Proceed to GO, collect $3 million in savings!

Aurora’s youth don’t need stop-gaps, they need a Youth Centre.  A place for them to gather.  One that has been planned for some time, but never committed to.

Just like the economic engine of Aurora doesn’t need to fill a storefront with a youth centre, it needs to fill it with a store.
The fact  that a councillor would suggest filling prime real-estate like Thompson’s or Foodland is downright scary, even more so when you realize the same councilor was on the previous term’s Economic Development Advisory Comittee.

In a Nov 9th Era Banner piece Clr. Ballard extrapolated on the financial reasons for not wanting to pursue a Youth Centre, you can read that here: http://www.yorkregion.com/news/article/1241106–aurora-draft-budget-includes-6-2-tax-hike

“Politicians and Aurora residents need to understand that with every new facility comes years of operating costs.  If we build a youth centre, that’s great, but afterwards, I think many times we get lulled into a false sense of security.  In reality, it’s the taxpayer that has to run it for the next 20 years.”

Isn’t that exactly what Aurorans are learning has happened with the Aurora Cultural Centre?  An organization that the community never asked for, and the taxpayers are forced to run for the next 2 years, because of very questionable business plans, contracts and no intentions of becoming sustainable.

So Aurora can afford a Cultural Centre, just not a Youth Centre?

Perhaps Clr Ballard is unable to see this hipocracy for his own smug reflection.

Taking out of the budget infrastructure for our town’s youth negatively impacts the future of our town.
Especialy after an entire decade where money has not been spent on capital or operating costs.

Mayor Dawe defined the needs of Aurora’s youth as a “moving target”.

I read that as an encouragement for all the more reason to act.

Sadly by the time this town takes aim at building a youth centre the generation that could have benefited from it will be signing up to the Seniors Centre.

Or perhaps, Clr. Ballard’s extrapolating on some statistics found on his blog here:

“Aurora’s population is changing. By 2013, it’s anticipated our population of children and youth (1-19) will drop by three per cent, while Aurora’s adult and senior population will increase by about 17 per cent.”

Woah, hold the presses! the population growth of youth in Aurora will drop a whole 3% in 2 years!

The town’s youth are decreasing.

Perhaps in 5 to 10 years there will be none at all.

No need to service them.

What a great town we will have built.

“Welcome to Aurora. A great place to live, work and die”

Just go play somewhere else.
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