Lax Kw’alaams pursuing youth centre

Fitted with computer stations, a fireplace, kitchen and media room, soon the youth of Lax Kw'alaams may have a place to call their own.

Fitted with computer stations, a fireplace, kitchen and media room, soon the youth of Lax Kw’alaams may have a brand new pad to call their own.

Developed by Lax Kw’alaams elected council, with feedback from the youth in town,  council members have developed a proposal to add an addition to the Lax Kw’alaams Band Recreation Centre and swimming pool as a haven for kids and teens to hang out, finish their homework and eat some snacks.

“We had a meeting early on this council term with the youth and they gave us a laundry list of stuff they’d like to see in the community and they also expressed a lot of concerns they had,” said Lax Kw’alaams band councillor and recreation youth and elder chair Carl Sampson Jr.

“We decided that … they need some dedicated space of their own and so we started going with the youth centre idea.”

Among the issues the teens had were problems with drugs and alcohol, explained Sampson, so it was clear a positive environment needed to be in the area.

“The reason we decided to make an addition to the existing building is so we didn’t have to worry about re-hiring new staff, so we can take advantage of the staff that are already there for the swimming pool and recreation centre,” said Sampson.

The centre’s dimensions, in the current planning stages, measure to 4,000 sq. feet and include two offices for the Brighter Futures program staff and a newly-devised youth council, an outdoor fire pit, a kitchen area, and lounge space.

“It’ll likely be [open] after school to the evening … with portions of the centre open throughout the day (such as the kitchen) but there won’t be any programs running until after school.”

The council is currently finishing the design concept of the building, and, while its not finalized, they’re “pretty positive” the current plans will be approved.

“We’re working on the designs and feasibility plans right now, but we’re hoping to have a complete package to propose to potential funders by mid-July or the end of June,” said Sampson.

If all goes well, the councillor said he expects construction to commence “shortly after the new year”. The project’s cost estimate from the management company the council is working with is expected to be $1.5 million based on similar undertakings the firm has completed with similar projects in the north.

“We haven’t identified the [potential funders]. We do have a fundraiser that we may bring in on contract to help with the fundraising,” said Sampson.

“It’s a developing project that we’re pretty certain we’re going to see through to the end. It’s something that’s just going to have a huge impact on the youths of the community.”

Residents and anyone interested in the design plans can visit www.laxkwalaams.ca and view them online.