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

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    [-] Eden

    Our youth are the innovators and entrepreneurs for the next 50 years, who will face some of the most pressing social, environmental and financial issues this world has ever seen.

    Millenials are more than twice as likely as BabyBoomers to invest in businesses that are addressing social and environmental issue, as well as making a profit. However, these youth are among those who find it extremely difficult to access capital from traditional lenders in their communities, as they have not had time to acquire any collateral or business experience yet.

    If we are to support our local youth, or attract youth from elsewhere, to start businesses in Rural BC – two things are needed:
    – New ways to access capital, and
    – Triple-bottom-line business mentorship programs tailored for Millenials (financia, social, environmental).

    Please see the submission from the Community Impact Investment Coalition of BC for further details on access to capital in Rural BC – found in Discussion Topic 4: Access to Capital – of this online consultation.

    Thank you.

    User avatar
    [-] Danika

    Young people care about vibrant, healthy communities. To retain young adults and young families rural communities need stable health centers and schools to ensure the communities remain liveable and viable as places to stay and build a life in.

    Young adults also need the ability to be connected to the “outside world” and have the opportunity of good-paying remote jobs. Rural communities need access to Fiber Optic internet at decent and comparable prices to urban centers. Currently, internet service can be from bad to nonexistent and the cost of poor quality internet can be up to triple the amount you would pay in Vancouver, Kelowna or Victoria. Having access to Fiber Optic internet ensures that young people can feel connected to social and professional networks outside of rural communities, furthermore, it increases the job possibilities for young people and can reduce the risk of falling into boom and bust economies.

    Rental housing is a serious issue in rural communities. The speculation tax should be expanded to be an empty homes tax across BC. Young families with children who are renting are consistently at risk of their house selling to summer home owners from Alberta and the USA, forcing them to not only leave their house but often time leave their community. The funds from an empty home tax need to be recycled to the given community to pay for affordable housing instead of being funneled into other projects in urban or other rural communities. We need to see our taxes benefiting our own communities directly.

    Helping young social entrepreneurs – many young people inherit old, decrepit buildings and/or businesses from their parents/grandparents with little to no funds to renovate/expand/rebrand the building or business. They’re put in difficult positions and are forced to sell the building (if they can attract a buyer) or let the building sit empty which only further decreases the liveability and vibrancy of the community. To support young social entrepreneurs in this position there should be either be (1) increased grant funding to support their initial stages of renovation and business development with the understanding that this helps retain young people in rural communities but also helps rural communities stay economically afloat, OR (2) considerable support for community investment funds/co-ops that can provide loans for these types of situations. I know the Kootenay Employment Services has been lobbying the government to support these types of structures and increase the maximum investment allowed from $5000 to potentially $15,000 annually.

    User avatar
    [-] Cameron

    In general, minimum wage laws are greatly prohibitive for youth seeking employment in rural BC; young, low-skilled, new workers may only be qualified to work for a wage that is less than the minimum. Without the opportunity to work for low wages, many youth will not gain the hours and experience needed to be eligible for a higher wage. Additionally, housing is prohibitive for youth in rural BC; my community of Tofino has so few available living options that many young, full-time residents are living in tents year-round. The province must address these issues in order to make rural BC an affordable, attractive, and profitable place to live for young Canadians.

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    [-] Shannon

    Keeping rural schools from being closed due to funding shortfalls. Young families don’t want to live in rural communities when they worry about the schools being closed.

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    [-] Brenda

    We have identified with Vancouver Island Health Authority that our rural island community will need trained Home Care workers who are located within the community. The training for these positions is available at VIU HOWEVER, many of our youth ( under 30) do not have the funds to register or assume ferry costs on a daily basis. It would be great to have a fund that students could access . Breaking out of minimum wadge jobs would be good for the individual BUT also good to have these jobs located within our community. A situation similar to this also exists for early childhood education workers

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    [-] Brenda

    Re Youth Training. Several businesses and not for profits on our rural island hire summer students ( high school and university level) This is often the first job opportunity they experience. We would like to suggest that in rural communities it would be great if all of the summer students could meet once or twice a summer together for additional mentoring, support and development. This would require one organization to take the leadership and assume the costs associated with these kinds of events.

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    [-] Susan

    Many of our young people leave the community as soon as they complete their high school education. With limited internet access the opportunity for online training is not feasible. Once they leave to pursue education opportunities many do not return. The cost of housing and even commercial properties is much less in rural areas. Online businesses can operate from anywhere – if they have reliable, high speed internet access. If we in the rural areas had the same high speed access that urban centres have the youth may opt to stay or come to rural areas to do business.

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    [-] Virg

    Make the banks a place where everybody with a viable project is welcomed.
    Right now, only developpers, wealthy people and corporations can afford down payments and enormous land costs. I myself have the skills, the knowledge for a viable project linking agriculture/community/tourism and I am more than ready to start. I need a land to start. Unfortunately my full time job as a teacher does not make me save enough money to get 70 000$ or more for down payment. How is it fair ? It is all about money. It needs to shift to competences and fair values. Control the market, protect the land, make it affordable, believe in new ideas and please do not kill our dreams.

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    [-] Claire

    Housing: rental housing, or tenants in common housing, or housing co-operatives, or incentives for first-time rural buyers.
    Meaningful work: employment opportunities that link students during their training with RURAL jobs & opportunities, i.e. rural internships/locums/placements; incentives for rural placements where professionals are needed; links with professional organizations, or even simply other individuals doing similar work
    Inclusive culture and activities: ability to easily connect with peers, activities, interests, etc.; doing uniquely rural things (farming, milling lumber, fishing, yodelling, hiking, etc); making rural places easy to navigate (e.g. NOT using directions that make no sense to newcomers, “the house next to Bob’s granddad’s old place,” which is alienating)
    Emphasize that there are a vast number of opportunities found in rural places that are almost impossible to find in an urban place, because that is definitely true.

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    [-] Bree

    Internet that is fast enough to work from rural communities. I live inPemberton and the internet is so slow or you can’t get it. Also transportation.

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    [-] Patricia

    In order to adjust employment opportunities in rural areas of BC, the government needs to look at the inefficiencies ingrained in the current publicly funded post-secondary (PS) system. I believe BC has more PS brick and mortar locations per capita, and along with that heavy administration costs, than other provinces. There will be pushback, but consider looking at PS education from the student back to the admin level, rather than the other way around. Drop the roadblocks that currently exist – those that make the effort to offer programs in non-typical locations so onerous and expensive. Allow educators and communities to partner in ways that are creative and productive.
    A carpentry program in a remote location can teach skills, advance personal development, support community engagement and result in a project that is either liveable or an asset to the community. A cook program can help feed hot breakfasts and lunches to school children, seniors/elders and those in need. Coding or technology training allows individuals to work remotely, staying in their community rather than having to move to a city. Engage high school students in forest and ecosystem stewardship, give them course credits and end up with a healthier environment. Train First Nations people in water quality monitoring and control in the areas where there are issues with clean drinking water.
    Engage corporations and companies who profit in rural areas so that they are investing in the community as well as investing for their shareholders.
    Trim duplicate expenses and spend PS educational dollars more efficiently – we certainly have room for improvement.
    Think differently.
    Thank you for your time, Minister Donaldson.

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    [-] Stephen

    Further to this, there needs to be allowance for running training in rural communities with low numbers of registrants recognizing the demand is not as great as the lower mainland. Youth in rural regions still need access to skills training and small communities can only absorb so many skilled workers.

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    [-] Shelley

    More funding for recreational/ sports facilities, arts and entertainment. Provide more local opportunities for employment – for example, poor quality pre-prepared meals are shipped from Vernon to care facilities in Grand Forks instead of providing local produce and jobs for local chefs.

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    [-] dawn

    Engage youth in the local community before they go to post-secondary education. Giving school credits for being involved in local groups, or providing summer jobs working with local organizations and businesses tied to rural living.

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    [-] Marion

    Daycare needs to cost $10. This would help youth stay in the north. There also needs to be greater involvment in arts and culture. Investment in the creation of media that youth often like to be involved with. Investing in research about millenials. Revamping mill life to support the work-life balance that millenials enjoy. Reconciliation with the First Nations youth as these youth are young, though generally unhealthy. Addiction support services so people can stay in the community and access the addiction services they need.