Tutor floated youth centre idea in January


Petrolia’s Chief Administrative Officer was already talking about the town using “a house uptown” in January.
Melissa Duquette, who lives just outside of Petrolia, says he mentioned the house near Tim Hortons when she pitched the idea of a free youth and seniors centre Jan. 23.
Duquette says she first approached the CAO about the idea at the local arena. Her son suffered from depression and she felt strongly the teens in town needed a place they could go and hang out and be heard.
“I just wanted it to be a place where people could just go out and connect with people,” says Duquette.
Baron was interested in the idea and asked her to send him a proposal. She drafted a plan for the centre she called Studio 17 and sent it to him Jan. 12.
Studio 17, according to Duquette’s plan would be a home-like place for 12 to 19 year-olds to come and find a listening ear. It would have two paid positions and Duquette hoped to be hired on to run the centre. She added she also wanted to run her tutoring business from the centre.
On Jan. 23, Duquette met with Baron, Thera Wagner of the Oil Heritage District Community Centre and Dave Menzies, director of facilities and community services.
Baron, she says, complimented her proposal but was blunt that there would be no money for salaries. “He said it would be easier to have Thera do it because Thera was already working for the town.” He was also against the idea of Duquette tutoring from the building.
Duquette wasn’t bothered by that.
“I thought, ‘just do something.’ I would have loved to (be the administrator) but that wasn’t the main reason I wanted it. The kids need it, the community needs it; it could be the difference between a kid taking his life and not.”
During the conversation, Duquette says the CAO mentioned he had a spot in mind for the centre.
“He said there was a house uptown…near Tim Hortons and again he said the town will cover the costs.”
On March 13, Menzies and Wagner introduced the idea of The Rec Room, focused on 11 to 16 year-olds and a component of seniors programming. It was to be located at 4168 Robert St. – just behind Tim Hortons.
As reports of the ownership of the building surfaced, Duquette says she was “livid.
“Someone could have really made a change for a lot of people and they chose to put themselves first and that’s what it looks like,” she says adding the town’s centre doesn’t seem to be attracting a lot of teens.
“If they only have 15 members over a six-month period, what’s the point.”