Discussion Topic 1: Opportunities for Youth in Rural Communities



Message from Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development:

Rural communities in B.C. are facing challenges associated with changing demographics, shifting workforce demands and business succession planning.  A key component to rural development, therefore, is the attraction and retention of young people to rural communities to start businesses, improve the workforce and stay rooted in rural B.C.

As we begin this online public discussion, I want to hear your thoughts on how a Rural Development Strategy can address the needs of rural communities by helping provide opportunities for youth to engage in their community, find meaningful employment, and see rural B.C. as a place to live and grow.

  • What strategies are needed to attract and retain youth and young adults in rural communities, and create opportunities for them to build their futures there?

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142 responses to “Discussion Topic 1: Opportunities for Youth in Rural Communities

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    [-] Anna

    I echo many of the comments made here already and add that young people will only want to stay in rural communities if they can find work and housing, opportunity to learn and grow, access to capital, but also crucially importantly but often ignored: if they feel like the excitement and opportunities of the modern world aren’t passing them by because of the location they live in. Time and resources need to be allocated towards rural communities being culturally vibrant places. All the affordable housing in the world doesn’t make up for a dull, closed-off, or dying cultural experience. This means connectivity to the outside world (excellent broadband and transportation) and the clever use of technology to empower young people to connect to their community, participate and make great things happen. Consider online voting, enabling rural municipalities to use multi-platform community engagement processes and bill payment software and other conveniences and rewarding the ones that do. It means a youth-friendly business community, and governance, it means school curriculums that introduce design-thinking and coding early and along with other forms of literacy. It means recreational infrastructure — accessable parks, trails, skate parks, great restaurants and music venues, and finding ways to encourage and support cultural events and venues in smaller communities. A satisfying culture is one where you can connect with people and nature, be entertained and provoked, and feel youthful excitement and inspiration about your life and its possibilities, and have opportunity to explore some of those possibilities because the culture f your town or community is open to you and who you are as a youth or young adult. Please understand the importance of, and support this and the things that lead to it: technology, infrastructure, amenities and services that bring us together. Without them, there’s not much reason to stick around.

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    [-] Amanda

    I am the project coordinator for Project Comeback Quesnel, an initiative focused on attracting and retaining youth and young professionals to Quesnel. We currently have a survey available in our community to hear feedback about the push and pull factors that affect young adults’ decisions to leave, stay or return to Quesnel. After 4 weeks of having the survey live, some of the feedback and insight is:
    Generally, most people move away from Quesnel to pursue educational opportunities and return to Quesnel because their family lives here and it is affordable.

    When asked if it was a challenge to find accommodation in Quesnel:
    47% reported it was a challenge to find accommodation because 1) the options were not desirable, 2) struggled to find an option that would allow pets, 3) they were discriminated against because they were young people, 4) lack of options that were suitable for children in a ‘safe’ part of town.
    Young professionals say they want to have more housing options that include executive style rental properties and homes to purchase.

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    [-] Diana

    Improved transportation is vital. The improvements need to be coordinated and include public busses and ferries. Being isolated due to a lack of transportation options will not attract young people. Lack of transportation also contributes to the expenses of businesses – especially on the island and between the island and the mainland.

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    [-] Tova

    Our youth in the West Kootenays are missing out on entry-level employment because of a lack of transit. Youth who live rurally, in places such as Salmo, are handicapped by a lack of any bus service to Fruitvale and Trail and only occasional buses to Nelson. No one can hold down a job in a larger community without a car. Buying a car and insurance isn’t an option when you’re just starting out. How do you save up for one without a job? They have to start somewhere. There is adequate transit on the lower mainland and almost none in our rural areas. This is a serious barrier to employment and development of our workforce.

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    [-] Owen

    Technology, technology, technology. Retention of youth starts with access to post-secondary education from their home in rural BC. There is zero reason why first and second year level courses need an expensive urban re-location.

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    [-] Paul

    Requires a multi-pronged approach as follows:
    1. Create a registry of BC companies looking to divest within 5-10 years
    2. Create a program that provides incentives for those companies to hire and train young entrepreneurs.
    3. Provide interest-free loans to young entrepreneurs taking over existing businesses.
    4. Implement the CEDIF program as per Nova Scotia It will create local pools of capital for rural investment that may be targetted, and provides investors with an incentive to invest locally.
    5. Enhance the regional community college program by providing more programming in smaller rural centres.

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