Premier John Horgan agrees with many in the Cowichan Valley that a youth hub should be established in the Island Savings Centre.
Horgan took a tour of the centre’s old pool site on July 10 with Michelle Bell, executive director of Cowichan Valley Youth Services, Sharon Jackson, chairwoman of the Island Savings Centre Commission, Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP Alistair MacGregor and other local dignitaries to determine the space’s viability as a new youth centre.
Horgan said he has had numerous discussions with Bell over many years regarding setting up a youth hub in the region, and he thinks the old pool site is the perfect location.
“The type of facility we envisioned is a one-stop shop where youth can check out employment opportunities, a place where they can socialize and have fun and those who need it can get help with mental health issues and addictions,” he said.
“This is the centre of this community and youth feel comfortable here, and there may be a new school nearby too.”
Asked if the province might contribute funding to help set up the youth hub, Horgan simply said he had been “hooked” by the tour.
Horgan announced with great fanfare last week that the province will help fund the construction of a long-anticipated new hospital to replace the aging Cowichan District Hospital.
The Island Savings Centre Commission recently voted in favour of partnering with Cowichan Valley Youth Services to renovate the front of the old pool site for the purpose of creating a youth hub.
The centre will house all CVYS youth and family support and counselling services, add an additional youth drop-in as well as provide new youth-service partnership opportunities.
The centre is intended to be a place where youth and families can connect with multiple youth services, and service providers can collaborate and share space to provide timely, wrap-around care.
The Island Savings Centre is considered a perfect location as it already provides recreation, education and services to promote health and wellness for youth and their families.
Bell said Horgan personally worked on creating a family centre years ago when he was MLA for what is now Malahat-Juan de Fuca.
“Unfortunately, due to the political climate at the time, it did not come to fruition,” she said.
“Now the seeds he planted years ago have finally grown. We are so fortunate to have a premier who knows our community’s unique needs.”
Bell said a capital campaign for $1 million for the renovation will begin this summer.
She said she’s not anticipating having much of a problem raising the money.
“The community is interested in this project and we’ve already been contacted by the United Way and a number of banks,” Bell said.