Cranbrook crafts set of youth priorities

Expect to see more opportunities for young people in Cranbrook as Columbia Basin Trust prepares youth directed funds.

Columbia Basin Trust is getting ready to send the first of four annual $25,000 cheques to Cranbrook to spend on youth initiatives.

A workshop was held here on September 17 to bring together young people and stakeholders in the community. Thirty-five people attended the meeting and came up with a list of priorities to address youth’s needs in Cranbrook.

“At that meeting, we identified some of the big priority issues, working in both small and large groups,” said Wayne Lundeberg, CBT’s director of youth initiatives. “What the issues are, prioritizing which are the major ones, coming down to which ones do we want to address with $25,000 a year, and coming up with some concrete strategies to start addressing that.”

Cranbrook and Kimberley are just two of 16 communities chosen to receive the $100,000 Community Directed Youth Funds (CDYF) in the Kootenays since the program was started last year. The program  helps communities set priorities for youth aged between 12 and 19.

The September meeting resulted in a lot of raw material, Lundeberg explained, and a local committee of about 10 people will now shift through that information to create a work plan. The work plan will then be reviewed by CBT, before the first cheque is sent our way.

Many of the issues Lundeberg heard in Cranbrook are felt all over the Kootenays, he said.

“They are actually common themes that have come up across the Columbia Basin.”

But each community drafts its own plan because each one has different needs.

“One size doesn’t necessarily fit all, so as much as possible we try to adapt it to the community,” said Lundeberg.

Dana Osiowy, chair of the Cranbrook Social Planning Council which applied for the CDYF, said priority one for Cranbrook will be hiring a youth coordinator, according to the workshop’s results. The committee will meet shortly to start the work plan.

“We will be prioritizing the ideas, putting them into a work plan, and hiring someone to actually do the work,” said Osiowy.

The need for a youth coordinator was no surprise to Osiowy, who is also the executive director of Big Brother Big Sisters of Cranbrook.

“There is stuff to do, it’s just that no one knows where it is, or no one knows how to get there, or no one has any money,” she said. “In other communities I’ve worked in, there has been a youth committee or people who got together and talked about the stuff going on for youth in the community. We don’t have that; it’s a huge hole in the community that I have noticed.”

Both Lundeberg and Osiowy agreed that public transit is a particular issue in Cranbrook.

“Transportation plays a big part and that can be a challenge to address,” said Lundeberg.

“We don’t have transit that meets the needs of the community. There is nothing in the evening, there’s nothing after the last movie, and that’s a massive issue. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a parent in a small town where you have to drive your children everywhere,” said Osiowy.

Those who wish to take part in crafting Cranbrook’s youth initiatives, can phone 250-489-3111.

Once the plan is complete, Cranbrook residents will see results.

“Hopefully within a month or two people will start to see those things happening in Cranbrook,” said Lundeberg.