Tearful teens ask Montague council for help establishing youth centre

Steve Sharratt
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Ann Marie King, centre, wearing Captain shirt, sitting with her friends Lydia Acorn, left, and Kyla Mackenzie, right, led the packed presentation at Montague Town Hall Monday night requesting support for a youth centre in the Kings County town.

MONTAGUE – Tearful teens, supported by their families, made pleas to Montague Town Council here Monday night to help kick start a campaign to open a youth centre in the wake of a fire last month in Charlottetown that claimed the lives of three Montague area teenagers.

“I lost my oldest grandson….I don’t want to lose anymore,’’ said Louell Llewellyn, the grandmother of Kenneth Irving, one of three young men who perished in the tragic fire March 29 in Charlottetown. “I will volunteer and help anyway possible.”

Dozens and dozens of people jammed the town hall and lined up along the walls in support of some action to help find a place for teens to “hang and chill”.

Council was told not every teen plays soccer or hockey in the region and some type of centre must be established for young people wanting to skateboard or hang out with friends.

Some parents said if every Islander donated a toonie, enough could be raised to build a structure.

Mary Vandenbroek Grant and Lori Lund, who run the Eastern Eagles soccer club, said such a project required money, volunteers and plenty of phases.

“We’ve got a real crisis in our community…. and right across the Island,’’ said Grant, a well-known Cardigan businesswoman. “Step one would be simply to find a place available right now for kids to gather and then work on a future plan.”

The action group for youth earned the support of the town council here and Coun. Peggy MacLeod suggested some type of arrangement could be made to establish a temporary operation at the Wellness Centre.

The $7 million Cavendish Farms sponsored rink is basically closed since the hockey season ended and many parents see an opportunity to use the concrete floor for skateboarding and a gathering place.

“We have fundraising ideas spilling over and we will work to run it and keep it safe for kids,’’ said Ann Marie King, the teenager who led the presentation to council.

The meeting was also attended by Brandon Quinn, the lone survivor of the Charlottetown fire, and Sandra Jenkins of Cardigan, the mother of Brandon (Bmack) MacKinnon who died in that same fire.

“I joined this effort so we could put something together for all kids,’’ she said choking with tears. “All we’re asking is for kids to have place to go and hang out.”

Teenager Colton Compton and countless other young people said they are continually kicked out of Tim Horton’s or the waterfront area and have no place to skateboard or enjoy friends.

On March 29, four Montague area teenagers were dropped off in Charlottetown. Two spent the day in the downtown while two spent some time in and around the Charlottetown Mall.

Before midnight, the four met at 207 Mount Edward Road, the former Sherwood Greens, property. At some point, they started a fire to keep warm.

Firefighters were called to the property at 5:30 a.m. the next morning. The building was engulged in flames.

Joey Reeves, Brandon MacKinnon and Kenneth Irving died in the fire. Brandon Quinn, the lone survivor, was hospitalized in Halifax where he was treated for severe burns. He was released from hospital last week.

NDP leader Mike Redmond, who was at the meeting in Montague Monday night, said he would advocate on behalf of the youth group to seek some funding from the government.

Montague once had a youth club years ago called Generation X in a building donated by businessman Danny Murphy. However, the centre dissolved after a few years due to finances and volunteer issues.

“This youth centre would be like a second home for many of these kids,’’ said parent Juanita Garnhum.

The teen group has already solicited help from local businesses and Montague Mayor Richard Collins said the town will support every effort to move the plan ahead.




Organizations: Montague Town Council

Geographic location: MONTAGUE, Charlottetown, Iceland 207 Mount Edward Road Sherwood Greens Halifax

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Recent comments

  • Ann-Marie King
    May 01, 2014 - 21:53

    Thanks Donna ! Dear everyone who is saying teens today have little to no respect. That is such an oxymoron as I sit here and read these comments I think to myself. "Who in their right mind can talk ill of the dead" but then I clue in, its the same people who hide behind a screen name identifying themselves as "adults" well to me all that some of the adults here are showing me is disrespect. I bet that's not something any of you have heard for the first time though. It's people like you who sit here and HIDE behind a screen name pretending to be important. You are bitter, rude, disrespectful adults and I pray to God that something happens in your life to make you realize that you have to show a little bit of comparison, and understanding. If not you have to keep your mouths shut and walk away. Those who live in glass houses should not throw rocks. However I have much better things to do then argue with such heartless people. Thinks like SETTING UP THIS YOUTH CENTRE !!! WOOO HOOO !! Maybe when things get started all of you who are bashing this could come for an evening of refreshments and a BBQ?! I would love to see each of you there because deep down I know you all see how well this will work, the reason it will work? People like you who spend their time trying to bring others down, it truly just pushes us higher... XOXOXO And to those supporting this I personally thank you for that.

  • caringgal
    May 01, 2014 - 15:59

    The last gen x club in Montague was a disaster.Where will the $$ come from? Most of these kids live outside town,and their parents didn't want to contribute to the Wellness ctre which served the whole area.Everybody wants something..a youth ctre,a skate park,etc.The residents of Montague can't afford these.It would be nice to have something I agree,but unless there's a money tree,I don't know how its possible.Ask Robert Benoit and Peter Doucette,the 2 directors left from the genn x board.

  • Robert Benoit
    April 30, 2014 - 11:28

    I have been putting this off long enough and now I just want to add my 2 cents worth..The teens of today,tomorrow and yesterday need to have a community center everywhere..Not only here..It gives them an opportunity to just be kids without the harassment that follows them everywhere they go..Just because of a bad apple here and there so to speak,,We get them as adults for crying out loud..I was with the original youth center the Triangle Club and then on to the next GenXX..And it was some of the best times I have ever spent as a volunteer..Some dances would bring in 150-160 kids off the street..And on any given day there would be 5-10 kids hanging out in the building.. But the worst part of it all was the nagging criticism that followed each place..Adults always saying that all the kids did in there was drink and do drugs..Well I can vouch for this how do you catch a kid drinking on the premises when there are only 3-4 people chaperoning..We weren't aloud to do a breathalyzer on them and I'm not one to judge them either..Over the years that I was there I caught one kid out side with a pint of rum and it was soon poured out..The thing with kids these days is this..They need a little respect from time to time, not criticism..How they gonna learn if we don't teach them..Now as for the center for youth I have one very big concern..VOLUNTEERS..If you plan on having it open daily make darn sure somebody is going to be there..The reason the last places folded is because of volunteer burnout..Same ones all the time every day..And all we got was complaints about the place..They need a place now but they also need mentors..My two cents..

  • Sunshine
    April 30, 2014 - 08:41

    I applaud the youth working at getting a youth center. If we stood beside and behind ALL of our youth instead of judging them by a few who make bad choices the world would be a much better place. Those boys who died were someones brother, son, grandson, and one a father. They may have made a bad choice but what was done is done. These families have lost a loved one and maybe those boys did not die in vain. I think it is a disgrace how some of you can talk about the dead in this way. My heart goes out to them and I wish I could give them all a big hug. "Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone". Come on people quit putting down our youth and help build them up. They are the future. Support them.

  • Peter Llewellyn
    April 30, 2014 - 08:03

    Grand Bank and area in Newfoundland experienced similar tragedies with teens dying and being hospitalized from drinking what they thought was straight alcohol (Copier fluid) The Youth center there has been operating for 15 years and is a model for many more. Please check it out, they could help with structure http://www.grandbankcyn.com/

  • robert
    April 30, 2014 - 06:53

    So let's look at the facts here: 4 guys, 3 under 16 and a 19 year old hanging out with them, go to town 50 km. away, and in the middle of a winter's night beds down in a vacant windowless building. Sparing us the details, the police mentions they found liquor bottle there, but no news of substances found in the blood of the victims. This is a tragic end for anybody, devastating for the families without a doubt. But don't let us make heroes out of these victims of their own poor judgement.

    • Ian
      April 30, 2014 - 10:42

      way to miss the point there buddy.

    • Amanda
      May 01, 2014 - 07:28

      TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU ROBERT! I couldn't agree more! What they did was W.R.O.N.G. They shouldn't have been where they were and they knew better. Youth in general need to grow up. We didn't have youth centres all over the place when we were that age and we turned out fine because we knew RESPECT back then which is now a foreign word today. They were TRESPASSING....which is disrespectful. It's tragically unfortunate what happened. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Youth need to learn from this.

  • fiona
    April 30, 2014 - 06:37

    good luck with this, -but it will not spur on maturity in youth, lack of which makes for such poor choices - education and parental responsibility needs to be a large part of the mix .

  • Ann-Marie King
    April 29, 2014 - 23:57

    You all need to understand that while alot of your posts may be hurtful to others I thank you for the negativity. I have a very tough skin and I can not understand why such ignorance is shown toward the incident with these boys. Were any of you there that cold night? No you didn't so stop assuming you all know everything because you are adults. I am 17 years old and at this present time I am working infact I have been working sense I was 15. And guess what? Soon after I was hired at my first job which I was at for 2.5 years the company I was working for which is a call centre had said they will not hire anyone under the age of 18. Many places will not hire you at 13 years old due to the fact that the labor laws will not allow it. Secondly on the topic of being home, until you live each life of teens please do not assume that their lives are great as you have no idea what happens in some of the homes. This youth centre had any of you attended the meeting last night will be a process that will be in assistance with RCMP, Social Services and any other organization to help. Also yes it will be a place to hangout for sure. But did you know we are looking at having the 55 plus club come in and spend time with us and teach us to knit? Share story's of their childhood? Maybe before you speak up and look at the negatives you should say "wait a second" maybe there is something positive. I hope each and everyone of you never have to watch your child be lowered into the ground. And who knows maybe because of this youth centre any of you who have children may come and visit and then hopefully think to yourselves this isn't bad at all. Thank you for the negative comments though, these will all be taken into consideration to help make JBK a better environment for all.

    • The Truth
      April 30, 2014 - 06:26

      What happened to Generation X? Why isn't it here today? What are the youth going to do that will preventive this new venture from ending up like Generation X. The previous venture was short lived what will be different about this one. What group of 55 year olds are going to put up with the harassment and ignorance displayed by some of your peers when out In the public in Montague.

    • Ann-Marie King
      April 30, 2014 - 11:09

      Dear The Truth That is true many teens are very rude, myself I have always had respect for my elders I don't have a great track history by any means and many people know that. Many people are just like you who have been Angels their whole life's and beleive that all should follow after them... That for your information was pure scarcasum, don't you sit behind You computer and tell me that 55 year olds don't want that because I'm promising you that they will. We as youth are asking them to come and spend time with us, therefore that is respect. You should go to work and perhaps take a second to consider other people's feelings because clearly you are showing narssasistic thoughts and do not consider others. Again you are sitting at your computer with the name "the truth" well let me tell you what the real truth is here, you were a kid and you made mistakes, you grew up and continue to make them because that's what life is. Making mistakes and learning from them. What is your real name? Show the world that you are a crewl and inconsiderate person. Thank you for your input :)

    • Donna Aitken
      April 30, 2014 - 20:27

      Very well said Ann-Marie King. I also want to thank you for using your REAL name and not hiding behind an alias . Great job! I couldn't be more proud of you!

    • The Truth
      May 02, 2014 - 10:27

      Ann, if only every teenager could see where you've been and where you are today... one could only hope that they wouldn't fall in the same cracks and would avoid them at all costs. You've had a rough start but look at you now! Now if you could convince your friends and family to open their doors and their hearts the world will be a much better place. These kids learn to make their choices from what their parents and elders have taught them in their upbringing so... so choices are not so good but if they have friends and family like yourself to help steer them in the right directions and provide them with good morals and helpful decision making techniques all would be well. Maybe these teens need to visit and help the people that belong to the 55+ club. There is someone in everyone's life that has made a big impact on them. I am really not a negative person, optimistic perhaps. I hate to see the effort that you and your group are putting forth to have a place for youth only to have it destroyed by youth like Generation "X". I know your heart is in the right place and I do think that there should be a memorial for 'the boys' but whether there is a place such as you are proposing or not there will always be tragedies so we shouldn't use needing a place like this so things like that won't happen. Because there will always be the kid that walked home in a snowstorm and didn't make it or in this case these kids looking for a safe haven to crash to get a couple hours sleep. I really hope that if your group and the community pull this off, that is a spectacular place and the youth thrive, and that kids get to be kids, also that what has happened in the past with the previous place for kids to go won't happen twice.

  • timesareachanging
    April 29, 2014 - 20:23

    I remember when I was a teenager, I'd be at a friends house or out riding my bike of doing something productive around the yard or helping neighbors. If I did hang out with friends and did something unlawful, my father would kick my arse! Nowadays, kids get away with too much, have no rules and think it's ok to do whatever they want wherever they want. No respect for anything, anyone...I'm not sure what these people are thinking but this hangout won't work because kids will have no respect for it and it will get ruined or abused. Get a part time job, respect what you have and others have, hang out at home with family and friends 'cause unless someone has a ton of money (even Danny Murphy donated a building and it failed!!!) this idea will never work.

    • seriously28
      April 29, 2014 - 21:38

      Your attitude is so sad , you think all kids have the same up bringing , you think all kids have a parent at home telling them or encouraging them to do those things ! if we are being honest , many families living directly in the town are homes with parents that have members working out of Provence some working full time / multiple jobs just to keep a roof over their heads , do you know how hard it is to find a job in Montague as an adult let alone as a child yes the times are changing we live in harder times . Kids are growing up with much different pressures then obviously you did as a teen . your venomous post is exactly whats wrong with baby boomers mentality an those like minded . teens today need a place to be active and to be noticed , you mentioned riding bikes , if you cared to lend any sympathy and hear what the were asking for you'd know a skate /bike park was in their . man I just can't believe your attitude

    • Amanda
      May 01, 2014 - 07:31

      TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU, Timesarechanging!!

  • Kids
    April 29, 2014 - 20:22

    "Teenager Colton Compton and countless other young people said they are continually kicked out of Tim Horton’s or the waterfront area and have no place to skateboard or enjoy friends." Kicked out for....being quiet and considerate of others?

    • Amanda
      May 01, 2014 - 07:33

      Give me a break. Bottom line - Parents need to open their homes to their own children and their friends then we wouldn't have problems. Period.

  • I Think
    April 29, 2014 - 18:34

    I think the post by foxy is by far the best suggestion . Jill MacDonald has stated a very true fact . 15 yr. old's shouldn't be allowed to run wild with out parent knowledge . Has times changed that much that parents has lost touch with their teenagers & if so why . There always was a few uncontrolled ones but most were controlled by parents that had rules & punishment , if not followed . The kid's today seem to have very little respect for anyone or anything parents included . I personally wouldn't want to be raising teenagers today with the dope & peer pressure . It's a full time job .

  • curtis
    April 29, 2014 - 18:14

    are these the idols of 2014? the examples we now rally around? the heroes young people rally around.? this was no accident, it was deliberate action, and not the first time either, how about talking about somebody not taking responsibilities for their actions, - and since they did not they died---.

    • Amanda
      May 01, 2014 - 07:34


  • The Truth
    April 29, 2014 - 17:56

    These kids need to do as our generation of the 1980's did, go to your friends houses, play in the fields and woods, teen dances... build forts, ride your bikes, help your friends and neighbours with chores, etc. None of us needed a 'special place', who is going to clean up their needles, pill bags, liquor bottles, graffiti and garbage like the staff have to at the waterfront. What happened to Generation X ??? Who is going to be responsible for any misuse of the premises? A new place for drug dealers to hang out? Some parents would think their kids would be safe going to such place, only to find out that's where their teen became an addict. The kids around Montague hang out from noon until 4 am, will this place be open these hours? Yes there should be something to commemorate these boys at our local highschool or a skatepark somewhere but not this.

    • Ian
      April 30, 2014 - 11:00

      Your ignorance is staggering. People like you are the reason why the younger generation has such a distaste for "old people these days" Don't pretend like things aren't different now than they were 30 years ago. 30 years. The world that the youth are growing up in today is NOTHING like what it was then. You probably wish things were the same, but they aren't and that scares you, so you need to project your fear as hate. Generation X? Yeah, there probably were problems, but why don't the "old people" get involved and try to help make a difference instead of complaining like bunch of ninnies. Your generation has it all figured out right? That's what I get from all these comments. Why not try helping for a change, instead of complaining about "kids these days"

  • Puhhhlease
    April 29, 2014 - 17:38

    I dont understand why theres even any negative comments about teenagers asking for a place to hang out...if you want respect from teenagers, start giving them some. It's ridiculous the way teens are treated around Montague. Look at the Irving at lunch time, they will only allow a few teens in, at a time, at lunch because of theft. Hire some darn security, and stop discriminating! Buisnesses like that dont deserve your money, and remember that! Enough is enough....good lucks boys & girls...dont know any of you, but proud of every one of you for going after what you want

    • To Puhhlease
      April 29, 2014 - 21:16

      There are negative comments because some of us think that this incident is being glorified. They committed break and enter!!They set they fire!! Some lost their lives!! Apparently what ever they felt they had to do that night, could not be done in their own homes. There was no need for any of them to be in the cold , or in an empty building. Kids don't need to use this incident to get a "hang out ". They need to seriously understand the consequences of poor behavior but learning that begins at home. The kids who want to party, drink under age and get high are not going to use a provided space to "chill or hang".

    • Amanda
      May 01, 2014 - 07:36

      Couldn't have said it better, 'To Puhhlease'. Right on!

  • Samantha
    April 29, 2014 - 16:18

    I think this would really benefit the community. There is no where in Montague for teenagers to hang out. You see lots of teenagers on there BMX bikes and Skate Boards and no where's to enjoy them. It would benefit everyone in the long run. Somewhere safe for the teens , and for parents to have a better idea of where the kids are. It would also cut down on loitering at local business. These kids deserve a pat on the back for stepping up to the plate.

  • foxy
    April 29, 2014 - 16:07

    may i suggest more home based activity with friends invited and parental presence close by

  • enough already
    April 29, 2014 - 15:51

    This has been the same cry for generations, nothing to do , its someones fault because we have nothing to do. Well I am afraid no community organization is going to supply a place for kids and immature young adults of nineteen to hang out and drink and smoke dope. Don't tell me people break into vacant building to act in wholesome activities . .There are gyms , pools , rinks , all kind of thing to do but they can't drink and smoke dope there so they don't go.

    • intobed
      April 29, 2014 - 19:10

      It isn't dope anymore, it is addictive pills that the kids crave today. Many have been given various pills since elementary school to cure illnesses that well educated people diagnosed them with. They have watched their parents take a pill for anything that went wrong, so pills are ok, right?

  • jill macdonald
    April 29, 2014 - 15:11

    Been done before. The kids use the place for drinking, drugs and finally, they wreck the place. Get a job.

    • chris .
      April 29, 2014 - 19:36

      we were all teens once dont tell me you never drank underage before at some point every generation does it but some people dont want to go swimming skating or stuff just want to hang out with friends outside most are into skate boarding and just hanging out you did it when you were younger don't jugde if you're not perfect either

    • Ian
      April 30, 2014 - 11:04

      You really have it all figured out don't you? "get a job" Exactly where are these hundreds of jobs for 16 years old kids coming from?

    • Amanda
      May 01, 2014 - 07:38

      Right on, Jill MacDonald! Get a job or if you are too young, STAY HOME... bring your friends HOME....