Investments needed to keep young people in Kawartha Lakes

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The combination of minimum wage jobs and the rising cost of living has led many young people to find ways to save money - such as the free clothing drive held this summer at The Warehouse in Lindsay - and to put their plans for post-secondary studies on hold.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Over the next six weeks, we’ll be writing about key issues leading up to the October municipal election. This week we look at some of the issues affecting young people and how counseling could help.

Dakota Butler is grappling with the same Catch-22 as countless other Kawartha Lakes youth.

She cannot afford to leave to follow her dreams, but they are unlikely to come true if she stays.

“Money is the biggest issue,” said the 17-year-old, who is in her senior year of high school. “It’s practically impossible to live on what is paid for as a student salary and it makes it really hard to get ahead.”

Butler has already made the decision to take a year off before starting post-secondary education to work in hopes of creating an educational “nest egg” — not everyone qualifies for OSAP — and helping his mother before his birth. departure. Young Lindsay expects to have to make tougher decisions once this ‘break’ is over, including whether to continue working and attending school – which may affect her ability to get the right grades essential for a good work – do both parts -time or just put your goals on hold for another year.

Unfortunately, Butler said, nothing she can do will significantly impact her future.

“Inflation has become a big, big struggle,” Butler said. “Housing prices have skyrocketed, cars are expensive to buy, not to mention the cost of gas and insurance, and the price of food seems to have doubled since COVID…If you haven’t not a good paying job, you’re out of luck and there aren’t any for people my age.

Carson Tutton-Flontek, a 23-year-old educator, said the outlook for young people his age isn’t much better.

“High-value jobs are rare,” Tutton-Flontek said. “Regardless of occupation, (Lindsay) seems to be a stepping stone where young adults get the experience they need to get better-paying jobs elsewhere.”

Tutton-Flontek noted that one of the biggest challenges he faced after moving from Durham Region to Lindsay three years ago was transportation.

“Having to drive back and forth made it expensive to maintain relationships and access services,” Tutton-Flontek said. “The municipality needs to invest in public transit connections to other areas, such as the GO bus.

The city has undertaken pilot programs for rural transportation in the past, but these have been discontinued due to cost and lack of ridership.

However, expanding Lindsay’s transit routes and hours of operation — buses currently run until 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday — could help young people access after-school jobs or working longer shifts, added young Bailey Johnson.

“Maybe (the council) could create a special pass for students who, while they were in school, could get on the bus for free,” Johnson said.

Butler agrees, adding that it would address another concern she has about life in Lindsay.

“I don’t feel safe in this town,” said Butler, who worries about the rise in crime and drug use in recent years. “I get nervous when I have to walk at night…there are a lot of places I don’t go anymore because I don’t feel safe there.”

Johnson and Butler understand there is little the council can do to address this problem, but suggest that investments in other areas could offer alternatives.

For example, Butler noticed an increase in “deforestation” due to development. Outdoor recreation is beneficial for people of all ages, but when neighborhoods “turn into parking lots,” people will go elsewhere to commune with nature or may engage in less positive pursuits.

Penny Barton Dyke of the United Way for the City of Kawartha Lakes thinks there might be something to it.

“We used to have a big problem with graffiti on our building until we put in our community garden beds,” Barton Dyke said.

Vandalism was reduced significantly in the first two years to almost zero now.

Butler would also like to see more municipal supports for the arts.

She was happy to hear that efforts were already underway. “The study resulted in a solid vision for a cultural center, with many potential routes for implementation,” Donna Goodwin, Arts and Culture Economic Development Officer, commented on a feasibility study. presented by Nordicity and Giaimo earlier this year. “Ultimately, the Cultural Center would be a transformational community asset that would foster greater cohesion across Kawartha Lakes’ culture and heritage network and be a model of institutional development and sustainability for future generations.

Building on the need for a municipal archives and collection facility, the center would be a facility for cultural and heritage organizations and artists to share space and assets.

“I’ve loved the city of Kawartha Lakes for the past three years I’ve been here,” said Tutton-Flontek, who agrees investment is needed — in all areas the two teenagers mentioned, and more. again – in order to make the community better for young people. “The grass may be greener on the other side, but it’s always greener where you water it.”

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