Smelly furnace, stale air and no bathroom: Why Colville Lake, N.W.T., needs a new youth centre

Colville Lake, N.W.T., is getting a new youth centre — and it’s much needed, says a youth.

'I barely see any kids around. All they do is go to school and go back home,' says Cody Orlias

The federal and territorial government announced new infrastructure money for the N.W.T., earlier this month, and it included a promise for a 1,500 square foot new youth centre in Colville Lake. (Hilary Bird/CBC)

Colville Lake, N.W.T., is getting a new youth centre — and it's much needed, says a youth in the community.

The current space — the community's old log house, once a band office — is just "too small," says Cody Orlias, who's responsible for opening the doors of the youth centre for the kids after school.

"There's a lot of kids around and it's just too out of control," said the 16-year-old. "It gets too messy."

He says there's also stale, cold air that blows through the building's only window. And the furnace has a mind of its own — breaking down once in a while, making it too cold to open up the centre.

"There's a smell that always comes through the furnace," said Orlias.

There's no bathroom, no running water. 

And Orlias says the only place that's warm enough is the area of the tiny building where the kids play games and watch TV.

$250K for the new building

Last week, the federal and territorial government announced new infrastructure money for projects across the territory.

Of the $96 million, governments said they'll contribute about $250,000 toward a 1,500 square foot youth centre in Colville Lake — half coming from the federal pool, and the other half from territorial and community governments.

The community's assistant band manager David Codzi says he expects the money will be just enough to build the space; furnishing will have to come later.

"They wouldn't even bother going home at the end of the day." - Cody Orlias

The centre will have an open space, bathroom and kitchen, said Codzi.

In order to get it quicker, he said the new building will most likely be built in the south, and be transported up to the community — rather than shipping materials up and building it there.

Codzi said replacing the "old and rundown" youth centre will give the youth ownership.

"Usually it's hand me downs all the time," said Codzi. "[Now] they can find their own way, their own things to do."

Orlias says he sees kids missing out on opportunities because the old building is sometimes too cold to open up for youth.

"Every time, I go out, I barely see any kids around. All they do is go to school and go back home," said Orlias.

But if there's a new centre?

"They wouldn't even bother going home at the end of the day," said Orlias.

Orlias also said the youth centre can be a "warm place to go" for youth who are bullied.

Codzi said he hopes the new centre will be in the community by the end of winter.

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With files from Joanne Stassen, Juanita Taylor