By David F. Rooney
It’s as-yet a long way from becoming a reality but if Revelstoke thinks there is real value in creating a coordinator position for a proposed Youth Plan it won’t be difficult to find the cash to finance part of that job for at least four years.
Okanagan College Youth Skills Liaison Mike Brown and assistant Megan Shandro, the two relatively young people who are putting the finishing touches on the plan, told City Council on Tuesday that the Columbia Basin Trust — already impressed by Revelstoke’s vision — has committed $100,000 towards financing youth plans throughout the basin. It could be willing to commit $25,000 over four years to the establishment of a Youth Action Plan Coordinator here.
All it needs, they suggested, is a non-profit organization willing to follow the plan (which will be released it its entirety within the next two weeks) and apply for funding.
Over the last several months Brown and Shandro conducted four focus groups with youths between the ages of 15 and 30, evaluated data from 221 surveys (120 of them from RSS students) and 40 interviews, looked into what constitutes the best way to create a plan and shared information with other communities.
They presented a very interested City Council, meeting Tuesday as a Committee of the Whole, with key findings in four areas. Under the heading of Employment, Education and Training they found that:
- 82% of young men and women who completed high school would like to remain in Revelstoke for further education or training;
- 42% of current high school students who did not graduate would prefer to stay for further training;
- a slightly higher proportion of females were having trouble finding work here than males;
- overall, 68% of 19-24-year-olds have trouble finding work; and
- those young people who have trouble finding work were more likely to “espouse a negative view of Revelstoke, and or tourists and foreigners.”
Under Entertainment, Recreation and Culture their research found:
- youth support the proposal for a new skateboard park and pumptrack as well as increased youth programming in the arts and a designated youth space with flexible hours;
- 62% of respondents said lack of money was their greatest barrier, followed by 28% who said it was lack of equipment, 25% who said they lacked training and knowledge, 24% who lamented their lack of transportation and 17% who said lacked mentors.
Housing, Health and Community Safety were also areas of concern with:
- mental health, depression, violence and poverty identified as significant issues by both young men and young women;
- lack of access to public services was another concern; and
- anxiety about confidentiality related to access to sexual and mental health services was also identified as a factor.
Under the heading of Citizenship, Engagement and Connectivity:
- 87% of respondents felt a sense of belonging in Revelstoke;
- 89% believed Revelstoke was a welcoming community; and
- 33% of respondents who have been here longer than five years want to become more engaged culturally, socially, politically and economically.
Mayor David Raven and members of Council appeared to be deeply interested in this report by Shandro and Brown and questioned them for a good 20 minutes. While the community does not lack for organized activities aimed at younger children, there are very few for people who fall into the admittedly broad category of youth, which generally ranges between 15 and 30 years of age.
Mayor Raven found allegations of discrimination “disturbing,” while Councillor Steve Bender had a raft of questions related to a number of the key finding. All things considered, Council should take this report seriously if for no other reason than the growing number of young people who seem to be settling here.
The full Youth Action Plan Strategy will likely be released within two weeks, Brown said.