Thunder Bay council pulls funding from youth centre project

Thunder Bay city council says it will no longer fund a reportedly successful youth centre project in the city, because of increased spending on snow removal this year.
Daniel Voss, Abigail Ross, and Robyn Selko attended a Thunder Bay council meeting Monday night to ask for continued funding for a new Youth Centre program. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

Thunder Bay city council says it will no longer fund a reportedly successful youth centre project in the city because of increased spending on snow removal this year.

That decision left Coun. Paul Pugh dissatisfied.

"I don't accept that the snowfall should swamp the youth project,” he said.

The city's $6 million dollar deficit, mainly attributed to snow removal during a seemingly endless winter, is no reason to say there is not enough money to fund a youth centre, Pugh said. 

The facility at the Victoriaville mall in the city's south side, originally a partnership between the Wasaya Group and the city, ended in April. At a Thunder Bay council meeting Monday night, the group asked for $25,000 to keep the program running. They also said they would accept $5,000 to keep the doors open.

"I don't believe that, with our $300 million per-year budget, we can't come up with a few thousand dollars to keep this group going,” Pugh continued. “ I just don't buy it."

Community services manager Greg Alexander said he's not convinced the pilot project is sustainable.

"We have other operations that have shown the test of time: The Boys and Girls Club, the Evergreen neighbourhood,” he said. “We have a bunch of them that have gone on for a while and can use support as well."

The youth centre's board said it has enough money to remain open until the fall. After that, its future is uncertain.

Colleen Peters, the president of Youth Centres Thunder Bay said they aim to be self-sustaining through “funding applications, fundraising activities, private donations, and corporate sponsorship.”

Coun. Rebecca Johnston applauded their efforts.

"At least they're up and trying to move forward. And, I think that as long as we can help facilitate what is required, it's no different from the Boys and Girls club of which we provide some funding."

In addition to funding, the city also donated supplies, furniture, and so on. The city may pull that equipment out to be used in other city-operations. More information on that move is expected to be before council in July.


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