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Outlook not so good

The mayor isn't optimistic that a proposed youth centre will go ahead as planned.
The mayor isn't too optimistic about a plan to turn this building -- once the Port Arthur Prosvita -- into a youth centre. (Jamie Smith,

The mayor isn't optimistic that a proposed youth centre will go ahead as planned.

Earlier this year city council approved a plan in principle to partner with the Indian Friendship Centre to turn the former Port Arthur Prosvita into a youth centre and a new home for the 50-year-old Friendship Centre.

The city's share, including funding from the federal and provincial government, would be around $2.5 million plus $300,000 a year in operating costs.

But Mayor Keith Hobbs said getting the money from senior levels of government doesn't look good.

Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt has said there is federal funding for Indian Friendship Centres specifically that the local centre could ask for, which would apply to the second phase of the project.

And a meeting with the province at the recent Ontario Good Roads Association conference didn't bode well.

"We have to do some more exploring on that," Hobbs said. "And the province isn't going to be too excited if the feds aren't involved."

It also doesn't look good for a hold on the building that's set to expire at the end of the month. Friendship Centre’s executive director Bernice Dubec said she hopes the city will buy the building.

While Hobbs said that could be an option, council will meet in closed session next Tuesday to discuss property matters, he's been clear from the beginning that the project needs to have leveraged funding and it is not something he wants the city to do alone.

"No, not me personally I'd have to ask council about that," he said.

With youth centres being a top priority, it's left the city looking for a Plan B. There are a lot of possibilities, including maybe using local community centres to fill the need.

"Maybe we team up with community centres and see if they can put a youth component into different neighbourhoods," Hobbs said.

Hobbs said there's still a possibility that the original plan could go ahead but it's not looking good and would likely be delayed at this point.