Call on council to do more for local youth

Ward 4 Clr Brendan Christie claims there is a shortage of youth facilities in the Lower Mountains.

Ward 4 Clr Brendan Christie claims there is a shortage of youth facilities in the Lower Mountains.

The youngest Blue Mountains City councillor, Brendan Christie, claims local children and teenagers are continuing to be let down by a lack of facilities, particularly in Lower Mountains towns.

The 23-year-old Warrimoo resident and Ward 4 representative will present a notice of motion at the August 19 council meeting that calls for practical solutions, pointing to a recent council-initiated survey of 505 residents that found youth services was rated second lowest in terms of satisfaction levels (after cycle ways) out of 45 categories.

Clr Christie said he wants council to prepare a report that would identify possible locations for a youth facility in the Lower Mountains and to start consulting with community organisations, business and youth groups to come up with a plan to address a lack of facilities for 12 to 18-year-olds and 18 to 24-year-olds.

He said he has received emails from Lower Mountains youth raising the issue, especially from teens who may not be into sport or who have found it hard to develop friendship networks.

"I grew up in Winmalee and had the same issues of having nothing to do - we used to go all the way to the [Penrith] Plaza just to do something.

"If we cater better to youth they'll enjoy living in the Blue Mountains more and become more involved with their community, so they will be more likely to want to stay in the area when they finish school."

When asked if council had the resources to provide more facilities for youth given it is currently asking ratepayers to consider a future rates increase or service level cuts, Clr Christie said solutions could be found that would cost council little or no money.

"The main thing I'm calling for is we need the debate.

"All too often the only action in response [to a need for more facilities for young people] was build a skate park.

"It could be trying to bring a Police Citizens Youth Club or the Midnight Basketball program to the Lower Mountains, creating a youth space between the Blaxland library and neighbourhood centre or maybe setting aside for use as a youth centre the building on Springwood Avenue [temporarily being used by Springwood Neighbourhood Centre until mid-2015].

"It could also be finding ways to make it easier to organise co-ordinated youth activities, whether it be art programs or social sport, or just making current programs more effectively connect with youth.

"It's not so much a lack of a building but a lack of activities - and somewhere to do them," he said.

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