Youth centre nears completion
Hammers pound as centre nears grand opening in old library

by Glenn Taylor
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Mar 20/97) - The new Inuvik Youth Centre could open as early as next month, according to board member Greg Rutherford.

Renovators began sawing and hammering away inside the old library last week, transforming the space into what will soon be the new youth centre.

"It's really nice to go in there and see them banging away," said board chair Dennis Allen. "Hey, this is really happening."

Allen has been working on the centre since early last year, when he received a grant to study youth needs. His report showed strong support among youth for a youth centre. Allen also chairs the volunteer board working towards the centre's opening. It includes vice-chair Camellia Gray, secretary-treasurer Craig Thur, and members Loretta Hopkins, Delores Harley, Judy Francey and Rutherford.

It hasn't been easy getting to this point, said Allen. The board has been doing everything from chasing down funding to overseeing renovations. But it's all finally coming together. "Almost every day, people ask me how it's going, and what they can do to help."

The board signed a $1 lease with the town last December to take over the old library building. The centre is intended to give youth a safe haven during the evenings.

The youth co-ordinator should be hired and brought in within a couple of weeks, according to Rutherford. About a quarter of their time at the onset will be spent pursuing private and public funding to keep the centre going.

Issues such as age restrictions or hours of operation "won't be decided without community consultation," said Rutherford. "We want to get input from parents, teacher groups and the youth."

The interior is taking shape. As you walk in, there's office area at the side for the new youth co-ordinator, and the co-ordinator for the Inuvik Justice Committee, which has joined forces and funding with the youth centre to lower costs for all.

Next to that is an open area for a pool table, ping-pong table, shuffleboard and dart boards. There's also a board room forming in the back corner, next to an area that may become a TV lounge. The board is also looking at setting up computers hooked to the Internet, although everything costs money.

Allen said the centre will depend heavily on volunteers and donations, but he's confident the community will support the centre. "How much more important can an issue be?" he said.