Be careful to accommodate local youth, reader urges

Last week there were several incidents that were reported which were disturbing and revealing.

Last week there were several incidents that were reported which were disturbing and revealing.

It was reported that: the Lacombe Athletic Park Association (LAPA) wants more money; City council members are amazed LAPA has come back to the trough so soon; Grant Creasey wants to move the dead to make room for a road in the cemetery; Council approves an additional police officer; Lacombe Taxpayers Association oppose funding to the athletic park.

By their own admission, council said they knew that the LAPA would come again for more money. Since the councillors admit they knew this, then it is not the fact that the LAPA came for more money that surprises the council, but that the LAPA came back so soon: it is a timing issue. If these members of council knew this, why the mocked surprise?

That the Lacombe Athletic Park Association is passionate about the youth of this City is beyond a doubt. They, along with the Skateboard Park, the Performing Arts Center, the Day Care Center, the Recreation Board and a lot of other people are passionate about the youth of our community.

There is also no denying that the LAPA presented a proposal to the City with a good business plan. Many people on the past and present LAPA board have keen business acumen and know how to run a business.

They employ people who live in this City who pay taxes. They own property in the City and pay taxes. With integrity and faith the LAPA presented a budget and a business plan to the City for the sole purpose of getting a “state-of-the-art” facility in the City of Lacombe.

The LAPA also did not have ‘blinders’ on going into this project.

If the members of council were so sure the LAPA would be back for more funding, why did they not offer advice to help out fellow citizens to avoid this dilemma?

It sounded like that several of these members were just waiting for the LAPA to come begging for more and then jumped on board with a judgmental “I told you so.”

Here is what happened that did not get reported.

The MEGlobal Athletic Park has been wildly successful from its opening last summer into November, 2012, and then again from March 2013 to today.

Hardly a day goes by that there is no activity at the park.

This past spring nearly every weekend the place was packed. These people came from as far as Sexsmith, Lloydminster, Grand Prairie, Calgary or Lethbridge to watch or participate at the athletic park. Before, after, and in between games, they go to local gas stations, restaurant and coffee shops. Has the City or the Lacombe Taxpayer’s Association calculated the increased revenue to our community?

Because of inclement weather and other unforeseen factors there has been an increase in operational cost. Apparently, many of the City councillors knew this would happen and that it was just a question of time that the LAPA would come back to the City. In essence, the only surprise is the timing. The instant huge success of this facility was something the LAPA executive perhaps did not anticipate.

Also disturbing is the Lacombe Taxpayer’s Association’s response. They are against paying for operations at the park, or the child center or the performing arts theatre. What are they for? Perhaps the LTA can present a shadow budget to the City as how they see the money should be spent and what the mill rate should be set at? I did not see the LTA protest Grant Creasey’s suggestion to move the columbarium. Move the columbarium at what cost? I am concerned that it is okay to move the remains of our loved ones, but it is not okay to provide for our young ones.

Then, the City approves a new police officer for Lacombe. Again, there was no protest from the LTA. Allow me to pull all these together.

I remember an evening in October, 2010, vividly. I remember walking into the municipal candidates’ debate at the LMC. Many people were pleased and proud of our young people. As Mike Wood and I stood in line to ask a question, several folks to our right bitterly hissed and scoffed at us with great scorn.

They lamented that if the athletic park were to get any more money from the City, the Communities in Bloom society would be left out in the dark. They did not want any more money go to these recreation facilities.

I was flabbergasted.

Surely we can work together? We are not each other’s enemy? Does it mean we may have to pay a bit for tax?

Maybe? Can’t we have a flower bed and a soccer field co-exist? Surely it can. It is easy to throw stones, but it takes a bit of an effort to gather these stones and build a community. Rather than blasting, “I told you so…it can’t be done…we are not doing it,” what if we all ask, “How can we do this? How can we work together? How can we build community?” Anyone can belly ache and say, “I told you so.” Let’s build a community, not fences.

However one thing is for sure – if we don’t continue to fund the arena, the pool, the skate park, the athletic park, the child center, the performing arts theatre, the trails, etc., we will be paying for more police officers and people will move to other communities where they are readily and gladly putting up and maintaining facilities to accommodate their youth.

Support the kids – without them we won’t have a city for long!

Fred Knip

Lacombe

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