Youth centre in works for Thunder Bay
The Thunder Bay Indian Friendship Centre is planning to develop a youth centre in the former Port Arthur Ukrainian Prosvita Society building in central Thunder Bay.
“We’re using the upstairs and downstairs (of our building) almost every evening of the week, so we’ve outgrown our building, basically,” said TBIFC executive director Bernice Dubec. “And it’s also been identified in a lot of youth forums and a lot of different research reports, from the Urban Aboriginal Strategy to the Multicultural Centre, that we need a youth centre for our youth in Thunder Bay.”
Dubec said the City of Thunder Bay has indicated they want to work with TBIFC to develop the youth centre, noting the project has been in the works since January.
“Right now we’re just working on a business plan and we’re looking for funding,” Dubec said. “Hopefully we’ll know by the end of March.”
The Prosvita building is centrally located in Thunder Bay just north of the Walmart, Future Shop and Chapters shopping centre.
“All buses have to go through there,” Dubec said. “Any time you take a bus through the city, you can go by that centre without having to transfer.”
Dubec said the development plans include a local park area.
“What we’d like to do is revitalize that park,” Dubec said. “And have some land-based activities, lawn sports and recreation. There’s a lot of green space, there’s a basketball court and a garden, so we can be utilizing not only the land around the Prosvita, but also extend it to that park.”
Dubec said the youth centre is just the first of three phases of development at the Prosvita location.
“The second phase would be relocating all of our staff and programs over to an addition to the (Prosvita) building,” Dubec said. “And the third phase is having a family resource centre.”
Dubec said the current TBIFC building, located on the north side of Thunder Bay, is “very overcrowded.”
“A lot of our staff are having to go off site to deliver programs because we just don’t have the room,” Dubec said.
Dubec said the three project phases would likely be completed by 2016 if it goes ahead as planned.
“We’re really excited about the prospect of having the youth centre,” Dubec said. “We’re really encouraged that the city wants to work with us.”
Dubec said the proposed youth centre received a good response during an Oct. 2 Thunder Bay ward meeting, where she presented information on TBICF’s plans.
“Overall, the response was good,” Dubec said. “Some members of the neighbourhood were there who support the idea. We did have one individual who was concerned about community safety and parking and how it would affect his property value.”
Dubec said the TBIFC is planning another neighbourhood meeting to share information about the youth centre and the services TBIFC provides to as many people in the neighbourhood as possible.
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