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Youth centre given green light by Thunder Bay council

City councillors in Thunder Bay have agreed to move forward on a new youth centre — a project that has seen some major changes since it was first proposed.
The Thunder Bay Indian Friendship Centre will operate a new youth centre from the former Port Arthur Prosvita Hall. (Gord Ellis/CBC)

City councillors in Thunder Bay have agreed to move forward on a new youth centre — a project that has seen some major changes since it was first proposed.

The Thunder Bay Indian Friendship Centre will still use the former Port Arthur Prosvita Hall for a youth centre, but a planned expansion for the building has been cancelled.

That means more room for parking, and many of the neighbourhood concerns about drainage and green space have now addressed.

During council’s Monday night meeting, Coun. Paul Pugh wanted to make sure he understood Michael Lemesani, the man leading the group against the project.

"So if I understood your answer correctly, you're not opposed to the current proposal,” he said.

To which Lemesani replied, “No.”

Coun. Ken Boshcoff wanted to know why the neighbours still had some concerns about young people in the neighbourhood.

"I'm kind of questioning why you would think kids who would want to go to a youth centre would be the kind of kids that would cause you any of those kinds of problems, when they go home at 9 p.m.," Boshcoff said.

Federal, provincial funding needed

Some councillors, like Trevor Giertuga, were worried about the price tag on the project.

"I'm not against this youth centre, or any youth centre. I just like to have options,” he said.

“Have we asked the Boys and Girls Club what they could do with $2.5 million in capital, and $300,000 in ongoing funding a year?"

The city's contribution to renovating and operating the centre stays the same, even though the building itself is now much smaller.

There's still a lot of work to do on the planned youth centre, including securing funding from the federal and provincial governments.

Organizers hope to have the youth centre completed by Oct. 1, with youth programming starting at that location in another year.

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