Opinion

EDITORIAL: Offside choice

The city of Port Coquitlam has always been a friend to youth.

So it comes as a shock that it’s seeking to balance the budget by reducing the hours of a youth centre serving kids on the south side.

Of course no one wants to pay high taxes and the city of PoCo should be congratulated for trying to keep costs down. But when it comes to making sure youth are supported and well taken care of, few taxpayers would begrudge spending the money.

There is even a good argument for increasing the hours at The Offside at PoCo rec complex, which is under threat of cuts, as well as boosting the hours at The Hyde Away at the Hyde Creek rec centre on the north side of the city.

Currently, the hours at both centres are 5 to 9 p.m. (Hyde Away is open Mondays, Offside is not) and on weekends the hours are 5 to 10 p.m. The city is proposing to limit the hours at the Offside to 6 to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays only.

Why, instead of cutting hours, isn’t the city looking to build partnership with funders and boost attendance by keeping both youth centres open longer? Consistency is key for kids who don’t go by agendas or wear a watch and the city is losing valuable relationship time with youth by not opening immediately after school ends.

In New Westminster, for example, a city roughly the same size and demographics as PoCo, the youth centre is open from 3:15 to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursday and Fridays and Saturdays from 3:15 to 11 p.m.

The kids we’re talking about don’t typically join groups or after school programs. They won’t take a bus to the other side of town simply to hang out. They need somewhere to go immediately after school — not a couple of hours later — when the opportunity to connect with supportive adults is lost.

We say don’t cheap out on kids. Tell the city to extend the hours at both youth centres and you’re willing to pay for it.

 

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