Young people delighted Salmon Arm council with fresh ideas Monday.
Why not food courts in the malls? That was one of six requests a Grade 7 class at King’s Christian School researched and presented to council, complete with possible solutions. Six groups of four students each tackled a topic.
“You give me great hope for the future of our city,” said Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond following the presentations. “One day some of you might be sitting here…”
Regarding food courts, the students said local malls don’t have a very exciting atmosphere, whereas the Vernon mall with a food court is more enticing. A food court would attract more businesses and more people, they suggested.
Students also pointed to the multicultural possibilities for food.
“It will make refugees feel more at home and will also let citizens experience it so they will appreciate the many cultures who live in our community,” said one presenter.
Mayor Nancy Cooper said she agreed with the presenters, as she likes going to the food court in Vernon and in Kamloops. She said she’d pass along the students’ presentation to the mall owners.
Building a public garden was also requested. Along with listing benefits, the students suggested city council supply money for materials and builders, specifying the former Mino’s Restaurant property as a possible site. Then the house wouldn’t have to be completely demolished if it was used as a greenhouse, grape arbour or tool shed.
“We hope you will seriously consider our proposal,” they concluded.
Other requests included more sidewalks, starting with Lakeshore Drive; a regular community garbage clean-up event; support for and upgrading of the homeless shelter; and a permanent track and field facility.
After the presentation on sidewalks, Cooper gave the students an assignment. She suggested they check with city staff to find out how much a metre of sidewalk costs, and measure how much sidewalk is needed. Coun. Tim Lavery said the number could be multiplied by two, if sidewalks were going to be put on both sides of the street.
The students’ proposal for a community garbage clean-up event was popular, with 100 per cent of people they surveyed at Walmart and the Mall at Piccadilly in favour. The students said people would get to know each other better as they work together, improve the look of the city and reduce pollution.
To support their request, they brought a bag of garbage it had taken them just 10 minutes to collect outside Walmart.
“It may even get people to stop playing with their electronics…,” they remarked.
Coun. Ken Jamieson suggested the students contact Downtown Salmon Arm as it is trying to organize such a day.
Supporting and upgrading the homeless shelter was another request.
The students pointed out that not having a home doesn’t mean people aren’t smart. If they had an improved place to stay they could get back on their feet, they said.
“City council is not helping at all so we think you could help to do what churches can’t do,” they said, suggesting funding be supplied to help with more beds, family rooms, food, computers and more.
Cooper commented on the students’ “real heart for the community,” and said she was touched by their presentation.
The group requesting a permanent track and field facility pointed to several benefits including a boost to the local economy, better health and high usage. They suggested Blackburn Park as a possible location.
Mayor and council present raved about all the presentations, with Coun. Ken Jamieson saying they were some of the best he’s seen.
“You introduced yourself, you identified the problem, you offered solutions and, most important, you thanked us.”