The City of Charlottetown’s Youth Retention Advisory Board is calling for all three levels of government to work together to stem youth out-migration on PEI. The Board released its initial report to the public at a news conference on Thursday, October 6. The document, which contains the results of a survey done by the volunteer board earlier this year, suggests government officials need to do more if they want youth to stay on the Island.
The report contains 18 recommendations for Charlottetown City Council to consider around topics of employment, the cost of living, health and wellness, and safety and transportation, among others.
"The Board feels that if these issues are not dealt with in a timely manner, the city will continue to lose its youth, which in turn, will severely hinder its chances for a prospective future," said Zac Murphy, Board member and co-writer of the report.
The Youth Retention Advisory Board was created as a result of a commitment by Mayor Clifford Lee and Council to make Charlottetown a more attractive place for young people. The Board is chaired by Councillor Kevin Ramsay, but the youth members have been asked to serve as the lead on the initiative.
"The only way that we can begin to move forward on this issue is to talk directly to youth about what they feel we should be focusing on as elected officials," Mayor Lee said. "Young people contribute to the growth and re-vitalization of the communities they live in and we want them to reach their potential here, at home. We hope the results of this Board’s hard work will set us on the right track for a retention strategy developed around the ideas and suggestions of our youth."
The Board partnered with Fusion Charlottetown to survey young people between the ages of 16 and 30. The survey, completed in February, received 800 responses over a four-week period. The results were presented to a focus group of young leaders in Charlottetown and together, they came up with recommendations for Council.
"We invite everyone to review this report to gain a better understanding of the values of our youth and how we can all become a part of the growth of our community," said Alex Youland, a Board member and co-writer of the report. "We also encourage members of the youth community in Charlottetown to further engage themselves in the development of our city, building a strong and prosperous community to encourage more young people to stay, live and grow in Charlottetown."
The report is available online at: www.charlottetown.ca by clicking on the Youth Retention Report button.
"We do recognize that there is a lot of work to be done to tackle the issue of youth out migration on PEI, but the work of this Board is a great starting point," said Councillor Kevin Ramsay, Chair of the Youth Retention Advisory Board. "We’d like to thank the youth members for all of the work they put into this initiative and their continued commitment to helping us develop a youth retention strategy."
A copy of the full report is attached.
The recommendations contained in the report are as follows:
1) Create one "Youth Council" to meet quarterly, working toward common goals. It should include representatives from all three levels of government as well as organizations such as Fusion, Biz Under 40, 21 Inc.
2) Create a "safe spot" to meet people to complete online transactions. It should be monitored by video 24/7, be well lit and patrolled frequently.
3) Create a Park and Ride program during the winter month, for critical snow clean-up days.
4) Create one central website for information on Charlottetown, along with a calendar that any organization can upload their event to. It should include resources useful to youth such as information on being an entrepreneur and how to access mental health resources. It should be separate from the City’s website.
5) Make changes to the taxi bylaws. There is too much inconsistency amongst drivers. It should be the same cost every time, for the same route. Consider the use of an app similar to that of other municipalities.
6) Promote a "Car-Free Day"
7) Establish a community space for bands to practice, for artists to work, and for hosting chem-free shows. This could be done through a membership program.
8) Create a video and other promotional initiatives that showcase Charlottetown as a hub for young people. Perhaps a series of short videos to help attract youth and new business.
9) Turn the vacant parking lot by the convention centre into a green space/food truck area, with access from the water as well.
10) Promote/sponsor the ongoing lunch and learn initiatives by mental health groups, Fusion, Biz Under 40, etc.
11) There is a need for a better relationship between the City police and the community. A good start would be focusing on their social media presence similar to the RCMP initiative.
12) There should be more walking patrols by the City police in high traffic, downtown areas, especially at night. Promote a Zero Tolerance for Sexual Harassment Week, with workshops and sessions on what help is currently available.
13) Have a City of Charlottetown sponsored Mental Health Week.
14) Make city parks more attractive, perhaps commission some artists to do some art for them. Promote them as possible venues for events.
15) Consult with youth to revitalize City bylaws. It currently seems the voice of a select few can severely impede new business or new ventures from coming/succeeding in Charlottetown.
16) Get the T3 routes into Google Transit. This is a free service; someone just needs to take the time to upload them.
17) Move the Farmers’ Market to the Founders Hall building. There could also be a space in the building used as an arts collective space, and the hosting of chem-free events/shows.
18) Promote the Confederation Centre Library as a hub for youth to use, similar to what is being done in Halifax with their library.
City of Charlottetown