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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - February 9, 1972, Lethbridge, Alberta February 9, 1972 THE LETHBRIDGE HERAID 19 If you were 16 years (or so) old and had the chance to ask the mayor of Lethbridge any questions you ivanted to ask., what would your questions be? And if you were the mayor., what would your answers be? And what questions would you ask in return? (The Herald wondered too., so we tried to find out) By RICHARD BURKE Staff Writer When you are young, concerned and inquisitive, what are you likely to ask the local mayor? When you are the local mayor, what do you answer? A recent informal meeting between Mayor Andy Anderson and 14 students from the Lethbridge Com- munity College, the University of Lelhbridge and the three city high schools was really more than thai. The questions and answers were two-way. An uneasy age and position spread dominated the first minutes of the encounter. Mayor Anderson attempted to dispel the "over empha- sized" generation gap the- ories, with limited success. Communication is difficult, he said, when a group of young people get together with pre conceived ideas. On an individual basis, how- ever, talk is easy. The young people together were Jane MacPherson, Chris Anton, Sharon Stevenson, Terry Lee, Tom Hulley, Don Larsen, Wendy Rasmussen, Bill Kucheran, Catherine Reti, John Voort, John Wevers, Pauline Erno, Cecily Ken- wood and Lawrence Loula. "It's not so much a gen- eration one said, "as the inability of people to get together physically." For in- stance, the mayor is at city hall where the young people don't go. The mayor is just as unlikely to walk into the schools. The mayor agreed, but add- ed that young people seem to reject almost anything an older person says. OLDEN DAYS The group proved him right on at least one point when Mayor Anderson said, "When 1 "was your age, I'd walk four miles to these pro- grams and back again." He was referring to pro- posed youth programs. The group had been questioning Hie effectiveness of the tran- sit system in getting people to centrally based programs. Youth programs constituted a large part of the discus- sions. Transportation came up when the mayor asked if a program and facility set up in the central part of the city would be accepted and used. The immed i a t e reaction was negative. The group spoke in favor of spreading (he programs around the city and suggested using schools on the north and south side for youth centres. Two advantages were men- tioned: with more than one centre, the youths have a choice of programs; compet- ition can be established be- tween two facilities. Mayor Anderson was con- cerned that separate facilities on each side of the city would isolate groups from one an- other. USE SCHOOLS The mayor, however, con- ceded that programs could be established at schools on the north and south side, with the school board's approval. He cautioned that such a system would dictate limits on the activities, confini n g events to within the schools. Also, the programs could not be allowed to conflict with other organizations or people, he said. "After all, with the type of music you get today, it can be heard for blocks." To the mayor's statement shout walking when he was young, one youth said he wouldn't walk from the north side to downtown if the tem- perature is below zero. "If it's 15 below or 20 above, it's still cold for walking, you know." At first, the mayor main- tained his contention that transportation "isn't that much of a detriment." In the end, he conceded it could hinder the success of a pro- gram. However, lie left it up to the young people to "prove to our satisfaction that trans- portation is a problem.'1 at which lime it would have to be investigated by the city. Throughout the meeting, the mayor stressed the neces- sity for youths to get togeth- er to articulate their prob- lems and desires to city council. ADVISORY COMMITTEE The youth advisory com- mittee the mayor has prom- ised to set up was brought up once again as a means for this articulation. The mayor sees the com- m it tec as "the medium through which I hope you people can translate to us so we can pnl together a well- documented program to pre- sent to council." He said the program must be researched before a posi- tive present a t i o n can be made. He alsn discounted charges that a delegation to council "is all a big show. It's wrong to think it is useless to go to city he said. The mayor's comments on a youth advisory committee brought little reaction. "What about a workshop to develop youth That got some response. One comment from the youth side concerned the sup- port that could be expected for a little. The interests are too varied, the argument went, particu- larly between the "straight kids and the kids that do dope." From another corner: "A worshop is only successful if the participants realize something concrete is going to come out of it." The mayor ss-.d it would be tried anyway, with some co- ordination between a youth advisory committee and a workshop system. YOUTH PROGRAMS The whole question o! youth programs was rather nebu- lous. Both the mayor and the young people were asked to be more specific when they used the word "programs." The mayor referred to the OppartunitiES fo Youth pro- jects which could be related to the local scene, particular- ly the drug situation. One such project last sum- mer, Messenger, was good for distributing information on drugs but the information didn't reach the parents, which it should, he said. That created a small spark. Information given to the parents, based on youths' op- inions, won't be considered, one said. "All my relatives for in- stance, are stubborn and ig- norant, but if you try and tell them that, they think you're a good for nothing hippie- dippie weirdo queer." Mayor Anderson disagreed and said the parents "don't have to be sold on the idea- just tell them you are con- cerned about yourselves." The youth persisted: "Quite a few of the city's citizens won't give us a chance to put up a complex for our programs. Many of the older people felt the Op- portunities for Youth pro- gram was a waste of their money." LACK OF MONEY For local youth programs, money was felt by the young people to be a hinderance to their success in two ways: a charge for admittance, such as at the YMCA, would dis- courage people from attend- ing, money to pay for the programs would mean limits set on them by the bill pay- ers. "The whole program will work if you can get away from the concept of one said. "Once you start charging for admission to get into a facility, the kids will stay away." The mayor suggested the young people couldn't quarrel with a nominal charge of 25 cents. There was general agreement. On the over all financing of a program, the mayor used city council as an analogy. He said city council has only so much money and "we have to watch where we spend it." He indicated the swing peo- ple, and their supervisors, would have a s a y in how the money would be spent for their program. MAYOR UNCONVINCING The mayor was unconvinc- ing on this point. One youth was determined a complete program could not be established "if the adults put boundaries on it." She continued: "You will tell us it's more important to spend money on a physical education centre rather than a drug crisis centre, but the kids might feel the drug cri- sis centre is ,more import- ant." DRUG CRISIS CENTRE What is meant by a drug crisis centre? The mayor wanted to know how it should be handled. Most of the youths were un- prepared to "throw out any suggestions right now which might be invalid." One took the step, gingerly. To establish an effective program, you need people who have experienced the ef- fect of drugs. You need some- one you can trust to be in the centre. You need the centre open all the time so people in trouble can go there for help instead of walking the streets all night. The youths' remarks indi- cated they favored more than one general facility, but that a drug crisis centre should be a separate entity. Mayor Anderson told the goup a sum of money had been set aside by council for a drug crisis centre, but the money had never been asked for. No concrete proposal has been submitted t o council. It's up to the young people to take the initiative. WHAT PROGRAMS Programs still general. What would the youths do with a facility? What docs a program involve? Activities emphasizing phy- sical fitness came to the ma- yor's mind. From the youth side, a sug- gestion that day trips be or- ganized to familiarize local young people with their own part of the country. "There's a lot of beautiful country here many of the kids have never seen. Before we go travelling across Can- ada, we should visit our own province first." The mayor agreed. He went further, suggesting visiting youths from the rest of Can- ada could be shown more of southern Alberta if the day trips were instituted as part of an over all local youth program. YOUTH CENTRE The mayor's concept of a youth centre appeared to be grouping all young people un- der 25 m the same category, the youths said, and they dis- agreed. "You can't put a 25-year- old together with a 15-year- old, because it isn't going to work. The person in the 21 to 25-year category has so many different interests than a jun- ior high or high school stu- dent." That was the complaint with the set-up at Central School, where a temporary youth drop-in program has been instituted. "The majority of the kids that go there are 12 or 13 years old. Seventeen to 19- year olds don't fit in and you'd never get a 25-year-old one youth said. A call again for more than one kind of centre to accom- modate the different youth age groups. Mayor Anderson defended his one centre approach by suggesting different program times for the different age groups. As far as a youth program is concerned, the meeting es- tablished a few areas of both Egreement and dispute be- tween the mayor and the' young people. O YOUTH NEWSPAPERS On the subject of school publications, however, there was only disagreement. The mayor brought the matter up. He said, "There are adequate words in the English language which could be used to better express an idea than some of the four- letter words that are used." He said the students' means of expression is where they lose acceptance with the lo- cal citizens. One student, who writes for the university newspaper The Meliorist, said the only objec- tions are against the words used, and that criticism is limited. He said the people around town don't have to read the school papers if they object to them. He also pointed out a paper should serve only the people it sets out to serve. The mayor stood firm. "You're the educated people. You should be able to use bet- ter language." Another student, from one of the high schools, said stu- dent papers there are "se- verely censored so that only the good items get in." TOE FUTURE Another subject concerned the city's appeal to its young people graduating from high school, college or university. What does the city have to offer to encourage graduates to stay in Lethbridge? Several of the youths felt tha city doesn't have much to offer in the way of jobs or living accommodation. The mayor disagreed. He said graduated experts in a particular field can probably fed a job here in that field. What about those who don't graduate from college or uni- versity Apprentice ship is neces- sary, the mayor said, and available. Little reaction. "I don't think Lethbridge is a very fun place to live. A lot of kids just won't stay one said. The mayor answered in general terms, saying the city a student lives in doesn't mat- ter he reaches an age when he wants to leave. He added many young peo- ple have left Lethbridge and are beginning to return. PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER Was the meeting produc- tive? In a limited sense, it was. The mayor came and the students came, a necessary step in opening communica- tions between the two. All participants agreed a youth program is needed in the city, but nothing concrete was determined. The mayor offered the young people a chance to be- come involved in policy-mak- ing for their own program. He was met with a degree of skepticism and reluctance. Probably the major accom- plishment was a confirmation o." the existence of a genera- tion gap. but one of ntinor proportions. pvHj H ;