This report details the discussion that Nicole, the Ward 4 youth councillor, and Olivia, the Ward 13 youth councillor, had at the library with several different young people from Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU). They talked about what they think about London, downtown, and how to make the city better for young people.
Who Should Read This?
Anyone who wants ideas for how to improve downtown
Service providers who wonder how to better involve youth in the city
Londoners curious about what youth who live downtown think about the area
A Note About Our Reports
LYAC reports are a different kind of report. They are conversational, friendly and honest. These reports don’t try to trick you by using complicated language or pretend to be based on the opinions of experts. They are based on the best information that the Youth Councillors have at the time of each discussion. We hope that the reports make you think, make you act and challenge you to consider things that you haven’t considered before. Share your opinions with us so that we can represent you better!
Thoughts on London:
We started off the discussion by asking what people think about London. The first few comments were about the physical environment, like how dirty London is and the constant smell and presence of cigarette smoke in downtown, especially around bus stops. The social environment was also brought; one person mentioned that people seem unfriendly and closed off here, and that they generally keep to themselves. Several participants mentioned that they felt bored, and that there isn’t very much to do during the wintertime. One idea that came up would be to to advertise different events in the city on bus stops so people can easily learn what’s going on.
The group expressed frustration with the lack of funding in many areas. A few people said that the good shelters were being underfunded or cut entirely. One person said that it was difficult to explore their passions because of stress or fear of failure, and that it would be easier to get inspired to explore their passions if they saw others do the same in the city.
The idea of creating a space for youth was very important throughout our conversation. Most of the young people in the conversation said they wanted a youth centre where more free activities could be held for young people. What about the space already designated for youth? Well, the group liked services and programs going on in the community, but they need to be more accessible and have more funding. Many said while there are things to do, almost all cost money and so those activities aren’t available to them.
Even free spaces come with barriers for youth. For example, the teen section in the Central Library often has adults from the street lingering around and is on display much like a fishbowl, both these factors don’t make the space inviting for young people to hang out there. One person suggested that more space, even an entire floor, should be dedicated to youth, with amenities that they would enjoy and a more welcoming space.
There were a number of different suggestions for how to make the city more inviting and interesting to young people: having a big sports centre , a youth centre with computers, air hockey, foosball and an arcade.
What About Downtown?
After discussing how to improve the city more generally, Olivia asked how to make downtown better. She talked about how she wanted downtown to be really colourful and aesthetically pleasing. After going around the circle, many suggestions were made, like making downtown more pedestrian friendly, cleaning up grounds and making it appealing to all generations. One person explained the inconvenience of living downtown with the many bar fights that wake them up at night, so they would prefer to have a quieter downtown. Entertainment and art were also important items, like having a dance school, adding more metal trees or having another interactive item that people would want to take a picture with, like building a stage at Richmond and Dundas similar to the one at Yonge and Dundas Street in Toronto. Another idea was to have easier access to the bandshell in Victoria Park and to give away free food in the park.
Much of the conversation was about the obstacles faced within London when trying to create more resources, especially when it came to funding. The group wanted the LYAC to bring their opinions and ideas to government to bring about real change. We take their words and stories seriously – they are proof that youth are engaged and hungry for change.