A couple of Saturdays ago, I awoke to a beautiful sunny day and the prospect of spending most of that day indoors. I tore myself away from the sunshine and made my way to L.V. Rogers Secondary to be a part of the judging team for the regional debate tournament. When I left the school at 2 p.m., I knew that it was one of the best Saturdays I’d enjoyed in a long time.
Students from J.L. Crowe in Trail, Rossland Secondary, LV Rogers Nelson, and Stanley Humphries Castlegar came together to debate the resolution “Fences make good neighbours.” There were 38 debaters in all ranging from the novice Grade 8 students, to juniors Grades 9-10 and a senior division, Grades 11 and 12. Each team did two rounds of impromptu debate followed by an individual public speaking contest where participants crafted and delivered a four minute speech based on a popular music lyric.
Each team of two had the opportunity to argue for, then against the resolution while adhering to rules on proper debating style. It was amazing to watch each student present their case, answer questions, pose questions and think quickly on their feet. Best of all, the debates were conducted politely and vigorously with each side having the opportunity to explore many sides of the question.
As I watched, I could see the leaders of tomorrow emerging. Tia Huttemann and Eja Loponen – Stephenson, two members of the junior team from L.V. Rogers will be representing this region at the provincial debate tournament in West Vancouver in early March. Take note of these names and the other teams, because I’m sure you’ll be hearing about them in the years to come.
I was so impressed with the calibre of debate that I’m recommending these young people demonstrate their skill at a future regional local governments meeting. I think there are many politicians who could learn much from these young debaters.
I, along with many other Canadians, have been disappointed and discouraged at the lack of decorum in parliamentary debate, and want to see this changed. What better way than to learn from young people embarking on a new path? The dedication of the teachers who are coaching these young people is evident and my hat is off to them as they continue this important work.
In recent columns, most of council has been providing budget updates and there is an item I’d like to highlight. The city and you as ratepayers have been investing heavily in water and sewer infrastructure over the last six years. That commitment is paying off in more ways than one. Staff reassessed rates this year and recommended a lower increase than anticipated. The 6 per cent increase for water and 5 per cent for sewer will add up to a total of $44/month or $855/year for the average homeowner; a good value for continued public ownership of our own utilities.
We’ll continue to keep you informed and will soon confirm a date in March for the public budget presentation.
Deb Kozak is a Nelson city councillor who shares the Wednesday column with her colleagues around the table