Let the Debates Continue…


graphicTHUNDER BAY – One of the missing elements in Thunder Bay has been the ability of people in our city to engage in debate on issues of the day. In raising the topic of a curfew, Mayor-Elect Keith Hobbs has taken an issue raised at the doors by residents, and taken it forward into the public.

The fires of debate on a proposed curfew have begun. It is doubtful they will end.

The comments on NetNewsledger.com on the two Op-Eds on each side of the issue along with the articles themselves suggest that there is a diversity of opinion on the subject.

Speaking to Mayor-Elect Hobbs, he stated that the issue of a curfew was raised by many parents, as they were looking for added help in “controlling their teenagers”. That is something I have heard from parents as well. What perhaps the comment means is that in many cases legislation has swung too far from where it once was with youth in respect to criminal activity.

In Ontario there is curfew legislation currently in effect.

“From Child and Family Services Act, R.S.O. 1990, CHAPTER C.11

Allowing child to loiter, etc.

No parent of a child less than sixteen years of age shall permit the child to,?(5)

(a) loiter in a public place between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m.; or

(b) be in a place of public entertainment between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m., unless the parent accompanies the child or authorizes a specified individual eighteen years of age or older to accompany the child.”

The legislation is not heavily enforced, although local clubs according to several comments on TBShows.com are enforcing the rules

What is encouraging however about the debate, now taking place on Facebook, on the comments section on NNL, on websites like TBShows, and around the coffee shops and other places in our city, are that people are discussing the curfew and issues that will impact our city. Those discussions demonstrate that people in our city care about Thunder Bay, and care about what is happening. That care is a key component to affect positive change.

The discussions, which are for the most part civil in nature, demonstrate a maturity of debate in our community.

This issue, like many likely to come forward in Thunder Bay over the next four years demonstrate that the power of the Internet through new media, social networking and the traditional press are likely to expand.

Mayor-Elect Hobbs has demonstrated a willingness to take issues forward for the public to discuss.  On Facebook, Hobbs is also demonstrating a willingness to engage in the discussions as well. “Some people hate the curfew idea and that is quite okay. It is only an idea that has to be explored, debated and decided on by more than just me. If any one has ideas on how to protect our youth and at the same time keep them out of trouble then please come to the party! This is everyone’s city!” states Hobbs.

It is entirely likely over the coming four years, in Thunder Bay we are going to witness a communications shift from City Hall. Talking with several of the re-elected City Councillors there is an apparent desire to communicate more with the public. Mayor-elect Hobbs is already taking his promise of an open door policy forward with both his “Walk-about Wednesdays” and his continued discussions on the Internet and in the media.

My view is that expanded communications are a key toward building a better Thunder Bay. Our city continues to evolve, and to change. The “Emerging Thunder Bay” that is coming must be one that we are all a part of, and we can all be proud of living in.

It is perhaps very fitting that it was a news article in the traditional media that started the debate, and that it is the new media, and social networking where the discussions are running at full speed. It is a proper metaphor for the future. Let the debates continue.

James Murray

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