Some ten years ago the youth of New Westminster started to make noise about the city’s need for a facility where young people could gather and hang out. Knowing how New Westminster is notoriously short of land to build public facilities, one of the biggest questions was where to put a Youth Centre. The solution was somewhat surprising.
As you can see in the above photo, the Youth Centre is attached to the back of Century House – the place where many New West seniors go to hang-out during the day.
Seems kind of an odd location? Not so much says Councilor Jonathan Cote, point-man for City Council on the Youth Centre. There are a number of synergies that develop from having the two groups in one location. First off, the city’s data showed that most of the seniors leave Century House by about 4pm. Most of the youth are in school until 3pm. So the two groups are really only on the site at the same time for a very limited time.
Other synergies the city found were that the senior’s were in need of a new computer lab. A Youth Centre would need a computer lab. Weight room? Both groups could use a weight training room. Multi-purpose room? Both groups could use it.
However, the youth who were an integral part of the planning of the new Youth Centre wanted an area that was limited to youth-only. And they got it;
The Lounge area is a space reserved for youth. In this space there will be, as you can see in the above picture, a Foosball table, and a bubble hockey game.
There will also be plenty of areas where young people can simply sit and chill-out (if that is what young people call sitting around and talking with their friends noawadays).
Lounge area is filled with beautiful natural sunshine.
One of the things that you immediately notice as you enter the Youth Centre is the paint. The walls are painted in colours that simply make you feel peaceful as soon as you enter the space. Councilor Cote was quick to give credit where credit is due, the youth chose all the paint colours.
One of the things that the youth advocated for was the addition of a gym space. However, Council did not feel that it was appropriate to encroach into Moody Park anymore than they already had. Also, seeing as the Youth Centre is very close to NWSS, it was thought the gyms at NWSS would be accessible to youth groups.
Although there was not room for a full gymnasium, they did add in a multi-purpose room that can be used for many sport activities such as badminton, yoga or other exercise type activities.
Another advantage of attaching the new Youth Centre to the back of Century House was that the washroom facilities already existed; remember the outdoor washrooms? Down those creepy stairs and into the scary space behind Century House? Those washrooms have been updated and are now inside the building.
As well as having the Lounge area for the youth there is a full kitchen for their use. There will also be a large screen television added so that movie nights are an option for the youth.
At the end of our tour I asked Sandon Fraser, Youth Services Coordinator, what the hours of operation of the Youth Centre will be (considering the proximity to NWSS, I thought what a great place the Youth Centre would be to hang-out rather than sitting in a Math class). Sorry kids, the Youth Centre will not open until 3:15pm. It will stay open until 9pm Monday to Thursday and on Friday and Saturday nights the Centre will stay open until 11pm.
One more benefit of locating the Youth Centre in Moody Park is that 45% of the youth in New West live within a 10 minute walk of the new Youth Centre.
Perhaps the very best thing about the new Youth Centre is that the federal and provincial governments contributed close to $2 million in the project so that the City of New West only had to come up with a contribution of approximately $1 million.
Overall my impressions are that this is a first class facility that will become a place prized by the youth of New West. I will report back after the September 15th grand opening.