Mentoring programs, homework club, music groups and resumé assistance.
These are just some of the ideas for a new youth centre to be developed in downtown Brandon.
“There seems to be a void in our community right now for some of our young people,” said Richard Greer, community development co-ordinator with the City of Brandon. “They don’t have the opportunity to get involved in activities and programs, whether that be through interest or maybe it’s because of financial reasons.”
The idea for a youth centre was identified through the city’s youth plan, which was adopted by council in 2010.
“The idea is that, if you’re a 13- or 15-year-old kid that is not involved in organized sports or extracurricular activities, there really isn’t a lot you can do that doesn’t involve you sitting in front of a screen,” Greer said.
In December, council received a delegation from Brittany Blair and Dannielle Morriseau, two members of the Brandon Youth Advisory Committee, requesting support for the development of a municipally supported, full-time youth centre. The Youth Advisory Committee has estimated there are more than 10,000 youth in the Brandon area and asked council to consider funding a dedicated youth centre.
In the city’s tentative 2013 budget, council voted to increase the potential debenture for developing the former Convergys building to $3 million.
If the budget goes forward as is, funds will be used to retrofit the building at 638 Princess Ave. to include the youth centre, as well as city administrative offices.
“The primary function of the building is to use it for city administrative purposes,” said Ted Snure, the city’s general manager of development services.
It will house the planning and building department, which is currently in the small building owned by the planning district on Ninth Street. The engineering department, which is currently housed at city hall will also move there, as well as the community services department, which is currently at the city’s parks complex.
“As the city has grown … both the engineering department and the planning and building department have just used up every square inch of space available, to the point that even some people that are coming back from maternity leave, we have to do re-jigging again to find proper space,” Snure said. “We need the space to better provide efficiency of operation.”
Snure said the city wanted to create a space where people coming to the planning and building department can connect directly with the engineering department.
“They actually work very closely together on development applications and/or building permits,” he said. Currently, the offices are across the street from one another.
The basement of the 28,000-square-foot building will be used for city administration storage requirements, as well as file and record storage for planning, building and engineering.
Snure said the goal is to have a tender out by late May or early June, so construction can be completed this summer.
“We would like to make the move late fall of this year,” Snure said.
Plans for the youth centre are still in the preliminary stages. Greer said the goal is to develop a centre that would be “welcoming to a variety of ages, a variety of backgrounds, a variety of socio-economic levels where people would feel safe, would feel secure, and connect with other youth … in a supervised environment.”
Greer said they hope to develop community partnerships, to create a variety of options at the centre, such as sports and arts programs.
“Strategically, the location is ideal,” he said, adding it is very close to the YMCA, the skate park, art gallery, museum and library.
The youth centre will likely cater to those between the ages of six and 25.
“We’re hoping to be able to … develop that positive social development through a facility like our youth centre,” Greer said. “We know that if you can mentor youth at a young enough age, they kind of change the way they think. If we put positive role models in front of them we’re hoping that they will try to achieve those great things that those role models do.”
While the Convergys call centre left the building in 2007, it did not sit completely vacant. Westman Immigrant Services used parts of the basement for offices and classroom space.
The city also used the building as a staging area during the flood of 2011.