The Collingwood Youth Centre officially opens. From what if to what’s next?

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December 22nd, 2017

Local groups partner on project – Nov 23, 2017 by John Edwards

When Ray and Wynne Smith built the Collingwood Youth Centre, they wanted a place for youth to grow and prosper. It appears their vision has been realized.

The Collingwood Youth Centre held its grand opening on Nov. 21, and was a culmination in a nearly 18-month collaborative effort. “We met across the street on the second floor on a rainy day like today and said what if?” said Martin Rydlo, director of marketing and business development for the Town of Collingwood and vice-chair of the youth centre board. “Here we are a year-and-a half later, standing here in this building.”

After a lengthy renovation, the youth centre, located on First Street, opened in October and has seen about 360 young people come through the doors. The centre includes a recording studio with instruments, digital video cameras, computer lab and a full kitchen. “We’ve accomplished a lot,” said Martin Oosterveld, chair of the board. “We have our centre open for more hours than any other youth centre in the area and we’re really proud of that.”

Rydlo, along with Oosterveld of the Rotary Club of South Georgian Bay and Coun. Cam Ecclestone, collected a group of partners for the project including the Blue Mountain Village, the Westin Trillium House, Elephant Thoughts and the Environment Network.

The Rotary Club donated $75,000 to the initiative, with the Ontario Trillium Foundation giving a three-year, $290,000 grant and the municipality also chipping in some funds.

“At the end of the day, it has to operate financially,” Rydlo said. “It’s great to have a building, but if you don’t have the finances to keep it going, day in and day out, it won’t be successful.” The centre is open seven days a week and targets students from Grades 7-12 with a variety of programs including robotics, music, movie nights, video editing seminars and food courses.

Ecclestone thanked Ray and Wynne Smith, who built the building in 2012 and are leasing the facility for $10 a year. “You two are very inspirational,” he said.  “Collingwood is very fortunate to have a couple that truly care about our town.” For more information visit http://collingwoodyouthcentre.ca.

©  John Edwards – Connection Newspaper

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