A new agency has voiced interest in creating a residential program for teen moms.
Youth Opportunities Unlimited is considering the possibility of opening a wing of its Cornerstone building (332 Richmond St.) to the cause, executive director Steve Cordes said.
Talks about the effort were made public Thursday as Cordes and YOU board member Cheryl Miller were featured during Mayor Joe Fontana’s virtual town hall with Londoners. The meeting was broadcast live from the nonprofit’s YOU Made It Café.
The idea is in the initial stages and would take some time to develop. But, Cordes said, the Cornerstone building already has two wings of dormitory-style housing and an alternative-education program.
“There are resources here that are already helping young mothers,” Cordes said after Fontana’s broadcast. “It’s a population we’re very dedicated to serving.”
The agency started considering the project after the Salvation Army announced plans earlier this year to close its Bethesda Centre for teenage mothers. The centre’s final day is June 30.
Also during the town hall, Fontana fielded a variety of questions and weighed in on lengthy council meetings that have become a trend at city hall.
“We’re going to have to make some changes,” he said, noting the meetings are going past a “reasonable hour” with Tuesday’s ending at 2 a.m.
Other topics included:
London Rippers liquor licence
Fontana said he’s been playing mediator between the Rippers and the London Majors, both baseball teams that play at city-owned Labatt Park. The Majors hold the liquor licence, which means the Rippers can’t sell beer during games.
Fontana said changes to the liquor licence are likely to require a public meeting and he hopes the Majors will agree to “amendments.” The city might consider seeking a liquor licence that would govern all its venues to avoid such problems, he said.
Western University moving into city hall
The plan is a complex one, but building a downtown Western campus is important to making “London the education capital of Canada,” Fontana said.
The proposal would cost the city money, he said, but it’s worth evaluating.
“We don’t know what that final plan looks like. But, I can tell you, city hall today has asbestos,” he said. “We need to fix that building one way or another. If we decide to stay there we still have to spend tons of money fixing it up.”
Independent financial review
A forum participant asked Fontana why politicians don’t hire someone to do an independent review of the city’s budget and look for ways to tighten belts.
While he welcomes advice on saving money and increasing the tax base, Fontana said elected officials should be the ones doing the “hard work.”
“I’m elected. I want to be held accountable. Councillors are elected, (they) need to be accountable.”
Mayor Joe Fontana posts virtual town hall broadcasts on his website at mayorfontana.ca.