There aren’t enough businesses in Campbell River where youth feel comfortable, according to a recent survey performed by the City of Campbell River’s Youth Action Committee (YAC).
Committee members Sidney Demuth and Clinton Macadam presented the results of the survey to council recently and asked the city to encourage more businesses to become “youth friendly.”
“Youth Spaces are outlined in the city’s Official Community Plan as well as the Youth Engagement Strategy,” says Demuth, “so it is an important part of Campbell River, and we thought it was being neglected.”
While the city, Demuth points out, does not have an official youth centre, “it can definitely work with local businesses to create youth friendly spaces.”
Almost 300 responses came back from the survey, which was circulated to all three local high schools. The majority of respondents indicated there are not enough places in Campbell River where they feel comfortable socializing with their friends and would support initiatives and local businesses that create more.
Demuth says some of the ways businesses like coffee shops could become “youth friendly,” would be to encourage them to host events targeted for youth, such as board game nights or music nights, extending their hours later into the evenings, offering discounts for youth, and just being overall more accepting when groups of youths gather to socialize. YAC may even create window stickers for businesses that do so to show the community – and the youth – that they are welcoming.
Coun. Michele Babchuk asked how youth are feeling in terms of being accepted at local businesses that are already open later into the evenings, such as Tim Hortons or fast food places.
“Are they places where you’re allowed to just sit, or do you have to make purchases?” Babchuk asked. “I know when I was young I got kicked out of places a lot, because as a teenager, I didn’t have a lot of disposable cash. I could go buy a coffee, but after two hours of sitting there, they didn’t particularly want you anymore. I’m just wondering where the balance lies?”
“Just about the only place we can go is Tim Hortons,” Demuth says, “and having only one option is not a good feeling,” she says. Even some of the Tim Hortons’ employees “don’t seem thrilled to have us there,” Demuth says, which she understands – to a point.
“I mean, we’re youth. We’re going to make some noise.”
Coun. Ron Kerr wondered if YAC had determined which area of town would be most appealing for where these businesses to be located.
“There was some discussion about the downtown area not feeling safe, but was there any discussion about location of meeting areas, and what areas might be appropriate and convenient for the students?” Kerr asked.
“We definitely discussed the location of any potential youth space in our committee meetings,” Macadam says. “Campbellton, while it has gotten better, isn’t really convenient for a lot of youth and isn’t really the kind of place you’d want to hang out later at night, because there’s not a lot going on, so it got written off pretty quickly. We kind of settled on a location that would be pretty central, such as Merecroft, would be ideal, because then youth from both Carihi and Timberline could both go to a place that wouldn’t be too far from anyone.”
Mayor Andy Adams asked whether some kind of partnership that saw various coffee shops that currently close earlier in the day open later even one night a week would help.
“Even having one day of the week that places like that were open later would help bring the youth in – and probably help their businesses, I would assume,” Demuth says.
Council thanked YAC for the presentation and their service providing input on various community and city initiatives.
“Your perspective and input is critically important on how things work,” Adams said.