What a beautiful place Oceanside/Parksville/Qualicum is … unless, you’re young.
Although this area is considered a retirement community, our schools are packed full of young people, and in growing numbers they do not like this place.
“There is nothing to do.”
This is a phrase I heard over and over again as I talked with our youth on the streets of both Qualicum Beach and Parksville.
On any Friday night you can find them out there … bored, frustrated and even angry. There is no youth centre, no place to drop-in, hang-out, a fun place for them. When they gather on the streets at night in groups of more than three the police show up and break them up.
It is a confrontational act and it makes them angry at the cops.
For fun some of them play a game of cat and mouse with them. Vandalism, it happens, but almost always out of that sense of ‘no one cares, so neither do I.’
On the whole I found only good kids … but I also found many who felt depressed and negative about where they lived. Right or wrong, many feel this way.
This is their home, yet this home says to them, “Leave. You have no future here.”
When high school ends they have two choices; move away to find work or move away to go on to university. Not one young person I talked with felt that this community said to them, ‘stay here, work here, raise a family here, stay and be happy here.’
The culture of any community teaches its citizens to feel positive or negative, to sense opportunity and optimism or a lack of opportunity and defeat.
This area, from Parksville to Qualicum Beach has done a wonderful job welcoming and supporting its elders. It needs to do a better job welcoming and supporting its young.