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Housing co-op puts stop to kids' lemonade stand
Letter says mess was left behind, warns parents to watch children

Simon Whitehouse
Northern News Services
Published Friday, June 22, 2012

Eight-year-old Taylor Sorenson has been a hit in her neighbourhood in recent weeks by selling homemade lemonade to thirsty passersby.

NNSL photo/graphic

Tachara Adjun, 8, and Taylor Sorenson, 8, sell cups of homemade lemonade near St. Joseph School, close to the intersection of Range Lake Road and Williams Avenue, last weekend. They were forced to shut down the venture by the housing co-op where they live. - Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

She has her own colourful, makeshift sign that reads, "To the rescue on a hot summer's day all you need is Lemonaid."

Her mom, Jenette Abbott, has helped Sorenson promote the little stand. The mother and daughter duo wear matching white T-shirts which feature a first aid red cross logo with a yellow lemon in the middle, reminding outdoor enthusiasts that Sorenson's drink service will quench their thirst.

Early last month Sorenson ran the stand on one of the city's first hot weekends, near the corner of Range Lake Road and Williams Avenue, one of the busiest intersections in town. Children on bicycles, skateboards and playful pedestrians lined up for 50-cent cups of the drink.

The stand had taken off so well, in fact, that Sorenson said she raised at least $60 in one day. Abbott encourages her daughter to save the money from sales to go toward the purchase of a much-coveted pellet gun, for when her family goes to the cabin on weekends.

But some members of the housing co-op are concerned about the safety of the children playing in an area where busy traffic moves quickly.

Inukshuk Housing Corporation property manager Terry Banks issued a letter on June 14 that, in part, asked parents to keep watch of their kids and to stop lemonade stands in the neighbourhood.

Titled "Summer is here," Banks' letter reminded residents they are responsible for their kids and should not be letting the young ones run around unsupervised.

"It is every co-op member's responsibility to report either to the RCMP or social services if you see any children playing in the roadways or not being supervised," the letter states.

The letter bans lemonade stands, as well.

"Also there is to be no lemonade stands," the letter states. "There was a couple already and nothing but a mess was left behind."

Abbott said she is trying to teach her daughter to be independent, responsible and to handle situations on her own. Raising money for things she wants is part of this effort, she said.

"We did a lot of work to (the stand) and we got it set up with a little stereo and a garbage can," she explained. "But then we got this letter, so we moved the stand to a location downtown."

Both Abbott and next-door neighbour Teena Lantz, who has five kids in her housing unit, said the letter is an example of a continuing culture of not letting kids be kids in the neighbourhood.

The area is compact, they said, with many children and little space for outdoor play.

Lantz has been living in her co-op home for seven years. She said the ban on the lemonade stand contributes to an anti-children atmosphere, which included the construction of a fence midway across a hill behind her house last year. Kids had been using it for tobogganing, she said.

"I think it was built in spite of these kids trying to have some fun and just trying to do stuff," she said. "That is really how I honestly feel. Now this letter says you can't even have a lemonade stand. Like what is that about?"

Another neighbour in the housing co-op, who asked to remain anonymous, described a situation where a resident erected a trampoline for kids to play on in a backyard. About four hours after putting it up, however, the resident was asked by a disgruntled neighbour to take it down.

"They have nowhere to go," said the source, who has been living in the co-op for close to 10 years, pointing out the housing co-op is supposed to be a family-oriented community. "All of a sudden there is a big concern now, but there is always parents watching. It isn't like the kids are left unattended. If I'm not watching, there is another parent watching."

Not all neighbours are in agreement on the matter. One concerned resident in the co-op said the memo was issued last week because there is a concern about the safety of children.

"The reason for the memo that went out is that there is an increasing concern for the safety of those kids. There are playgrounds on each side of the housing co-op, but we are seeing kids playing in the street and the parking lot," said the source, who asked to remain anonymous.

"They set up three lemonade stands (in the last month) and they didn't clean up afterward. Now we have Styrofoam cups blowing in the wind all over. The kids were asked to clean it up and refused to do it."

Lantz said such moves by the housing co-op limit an effort to create a sense of community, especially when people already live very close together. A playground for the numerous children in the area could go a long way toward solving this problem, she said.

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