The Hub, a new non-profit society that has been formed in Port Hardy with the goal of creating a multi-purpose community centre, had its first official meeting with Port Hardy Council.
Hub representative Jill Laviolette sat down with council at their regular meeting on Feb. 27, where she stated it is “painfully obvious downtown that Port Hardy has problems,” adding, “it’s one of the most beautiful towns on the island, yet a large portion of its people are hurting.”
Laviolette pointed out that if families are hurting and don’t have enough money, “kids are less likely to play sports, and if kids are not naturally athletic, then what is there for kids to do here? Not much.”
Laviolette said she grew up here on the North Island in a troubled home, “and it’s becoming more and more normal for kids to grow up in chaos, and nothing good will come from that, especially if we turn a blind eye and take funding away from activities and programs that don’t have supports in place for them — the kids will fall through the cracks.”
Laviolette pointed out she was motivated by the Kids in Motion non-profit society in Port McNeill that runs a play centre and a makerspace for families in the town and surrounding areas.
She stated she was approached to do the same kind of thing in Port Hardy, “but I said I’m not comfortable doing the same thing, but I am comfortable doing more of a community centre.”
Laviolette is a working mom who misses out on socializing daily with play groups here in town, and she knows other parents like her would love to see a community centre come to life.
“Since moving back to Port Hardy last April and hearing people always say ‘there’s nothing to do here, there’s nothing to do here’ — I got so sick of hearing it and nobody doing anything about it,” she said, adding that was the breaking point for her to get up and make change happen herself.
The Hub officially formed in January, and they are currently looking at different locations to see which one is the best fit for their budget and to serve the community.
Laviolette said the space they end up using will have an arts and craft section, a kitchen area, maybe a tv area, and will host things like a youth centre, repair cafe events (bring in a broken item and learn to fix it), a healing centre, DIY’s and How To classes, family events, multicultural events, and even senior’s events.
“I think it would boost our economic growth, as it would make Port Hardy a more attractive place to live and stay, and it would give us one more thing to do here,” said Laviolette, adding she would love to see an indoor play centre here, “because the weather can be atrocious.”
Coun. Rick Marcotte was the first to speak, stating he found Laviolette’s report to be “very nice.”
“I admire your energy and ambition, you certainly have my support and every support I can give,” said Coun. Fred Robertson, who then asked if part of the plan “is to work with existing organizations?”
“Absolutely,” replied Laviolette. “We want to work with as many groups as possible.”
“What were you hoping to see from us in return?” Coun. Dennis Dugas asked.
“Support from you would be amazing, just so that I know I’m not crazy and this could actually happen,” Laviolette answered. “I am going to be asking for donations for sponsorships and grants from everyone I can.”
Coun. Leightan Wishart added he thinks this is “something that’s really needed in this town … I hope this is something you can pull off.”
“Jill has orchestrated a couple of meetings that were very well attended by a real variety of walks of life from Port Hardy,” noted Coun. Pat Corbett-Labatt, who added Laviolette should request a letter of support from the district to help with grant applications.
“Its good to see your energy, people can make things happen with energy and drive,” added Mayor Hank Bood. “Good luck, I know you’re going to get there. There’s a real niche there that needs to be filled and we can certainly support you with a letter or whatever you might need for grants.”