After a long search, Lacombe’s Parent Link Network found a home in the Lacombe Memorial Centre when City council voted to enter into a three to five-year lease agreement with Parent Link, allowing them exclusive use of the Kinsmen room at the LMC.
“We are obviously very delighted and excited about the new partnership with the City,” said Donnie Tafts, family services coordinator for Lacombe FCSS.
Tafts said that Parent Link knew the lease at their current location in McCormick School would expire in June when they entered into it two years ago.
Parent Link then began working with real estate agents and others to find a suitable location in the area a year ago. As part of that search, Parent Link approached the City to ask if there were any City-owned buildings that might have appropriate space.
After some direction from council, the City identified the Kinsmen room at the LMC as the most appropriate location.
However, not everyone is as excited about the new partnership as Parent Link. Before council made the decision to enter into a lease agreement, Councillor Grant Creasey made it clear he was not only unsupportive of Parent Link having exclusive use of the community facility, but implied he did not support Parent Link itself. Creasey criticized Parent Link for not charging its users.
“I have a big problem with this particular group in that the users pay absolutely nothing for the service,” said Creasey. He added he felt the City should not have to provide a place for Parent Link when the program is funded by the provincial government.
Tafts said Lacombians do not have to pay for this service and Parent Link is paying the City for use of the Kinsmen Room.
In fact, the City will be realizing a $10,000 increase in revenue from that facility. This was something Councillor Reuben Konnick was quick to pick up on during discussion as well.
He said it was a “no-brainer” to allow Parent Link exclusive use of the Kinsmen Room when it meant more income for the City and added that there is room elsewhere for others who might wish to use the Kinsmen Room.
Tafts also said there is a reason Parent Link’s services are free. She said the organization encourages parents to use its services and charging a fee for them can hinder that.
“We do not want to create barriers to participation,” said Tafts. “Even when it’s free we have some difficulty encouraging some families to participate.”
Tafts also expressed her disappointment in Creasey’s lack of support for the program.
“Obviously I would like to see him see the value in the program and I would invite any City councillor to come to Parent Link and see what we are doing.”
Most other councillors agreed with Konnick.
Councillor Ian Foster said that it is not an ideal situation but said alternatives were limited.
“Is this the best spot for them? Probably not. But what else is available?” said Foster.
Tafts added that, in the last year, Parent Link served 460 children between the ages of zero and six as well as 360 parents and caregivers. “When young families choose to locate here, they know they can seek out the Parent Link centre, they can go on the web site, they can figure out where the Parent Link centre in Lacombe is located and they know they can go there and find families at the same stage of development as they are,” said Tafts.