PARRSBORO – Although many have welcomed the new youth centre as a positive addition to the town, not everyone is happy with its location or the traffic it has created.
Several residents raised issues at the Nov. 28 town council session, complaining of litter in the Main Street/Dominion Street area of the new centre, and problems with some of the neighbours.
Randy Mosher, whose senior citizen mother lives nearby on Dominion Street said the location of the centre has been a problem for them.
“ The amount of litter has gone up exponentially since the opening of the youth centre, and youth are shortcutting across our property on a regular basis,” he said. “Today I invested $200 in a short piece of fence to attempt to redirect them back onto public thoroughfares, and I expect to have to spend another $700 if the situation doesn’t improve.”
Mosher also described incidents of people tapping on his mother’s windows.
“It sounds fairly innocent, but when you’re 84 years old and accustomed to living at home, things like that scare the pants off her and, in turn, me,” he said. “I wish the youth centre was anywhere except next door to where my mother lives.”
Mayor Lois Smith explained that the youth centre is neither the responsibility of town council nor the youth town council, but said she would have no problem speaking about the matter to Tom and Sharon Brown, instrumental figures in the creation of the youth centre.
“It’s great, and I’m glad young people are going there and playing their games and such, but I do know where you’re coming from with a senior citizen living right behind there,” said Smith. “We’ll do what we can for you.”
When contacted after the meeting, Mr. Brown said the issue of tapping on the neighbour’s windows was resolved a long time ago, and that the litter in the area gets picked up, “Just like everywhere else in town.”
“You can’t do nothing good in this town without people bashing it,” he said. “I’m kind of fed up with it.”
Brown said the youth centre is used by 30-40 young people on any given day, playing games, watching movies or catching up on their homework, instead of hanging out on the steps of the old post office. Operated by a staff of 32 volunteers, the centre recently won $10,000 through the Kia Drive Change contest for community projects.
“I think it’s making a difference, and I’ve even seen some change in kids,” he said. “One of the Mounties came up to me about one kid who had been a problem kid, and said he hasn’t been in trouble since the youth centre opened. He’s been a part, and volunteered in there.”
Unfortunately, he said some people in town have been against the project from the start, and have spread negativity about it.
“You’d think we opened a bloody methadone clinic here,” said Brown. “I’m ready to put a for sale sign on the house, and shut the youth centre down and leave. That’s how pissed off I am right now.”
Another nearby resident, Bill Wheaton, raised the issue of youth loitering on the steps of Trinity United Church and leaving their litter behind.
“Before too long there’s going to be a serious accident happening there, either due to the fact of drugs or that they’re smoking and leaving their trash there,” he said. “I pick it up all the time, and they don’t put much in the barrel.”
Another resident, Sandy Graham, agreed that litter in the United Church area has become a problem. Although he pointed out that it is not only youth that litter, he said he has raised the issue himself with young people who gather there.
“It falls to the older ones who should set the example,” said Graham. “Maybe what we have to do is get to the Grade 12s and say, ‘If you make this happen, it will help it fall in place’… If they’re approached in the right way, it might be productive.”
A retired teacher, the mayor said she would also have no problem speaking to the school principal about the matter.
“It is a problem, and it’s a problem for all communities,” she said. “I believe how we address it is through education… perhaps through the school system and the youth town council, and hopefully it will improve.”