At the Youbou Community Association’s annual general meeting last week, members discussed a range of initiatives for the area, including possible redevelopment of the former Yount Elementary School.
“The Yount school is something that we’ve been looking at whether or not there’s enough community interest and drive to actually maybe acquire it through the association,” said association chairperson Chris Leischner.
The school building is currently owned by BC School District 69, and according to Leischner, since its closure in 2006 there have been a number of ideas for how to repurpose the space for community use.
Alison Nicholson, Area E director for the CVRD and one of the driving forces behind the Hub at Cowichan Station, gave an hour-long presentation at the AGM after touring Yount School. She explained how the Hub, a blend of business and community space that grew out of the former Cowichan Station School, was formed.
“I went through what I thought the important factors for success were for Cowichan Station,” said Nicholson, adding that her community’s situation is different than Youbou’s because it has a more central location. She also noted the Yount School is a bigger space than the Hub.
“[There are] lots of classrooms, lots of opportunities to do different things. But a bigger space is also more expensive to run,” she said. “It’s a real challenge but I also said: If you want to do it, I always believe you can get it done.”
Nicholson told Leischner and the Youbou association that having a business model is key to maintaining a fiscally sustainable location. She invited anyone to come to visit the Hub for a tour and to get a sense of how they operate.
Leischner said the talk was inspiring.
“We would like to follow a model similar to the Hub where we get a couple of anchor businesses,” she said. “There’s an individual in the community who runs a day care who’s interested. There’s been a few artist groups that would like to have access to some space.”
Leischner said her association’s goal is to “regenerate and revive and connect Youbounians and Youbouites” and she and her fellow board members hope to find someone from the community who will champion this project and “take [it] on with a passion.”
Area I director Klaus Kuhn plans to hold a town hall meeting in February and discussion of a Yount School revival will be one of the items on his agenda.
Other topics at the Youbou Community Association’s AGM included fundraising plans for the coming year, preliminary research on a community boat launch and more “speed watch” days (during which community members clock traffic speeds).
The association’s board members are all staying on in their positions for another, and the board also welcomed the addition of two new directors, Duncan Hume and Don Beldessi.
The board also announced the Youbou Welcomes You sign will be repainted this spring. “Just to get things smartened up and give people pride in the community, that kind of thing,” said Leischner, noting there are a number of talented artists in Youbou, one of whom has volunteered to repaint the sign.
Leischner said her group is also looking into the possibility of painting some of the telephone poles going into Youbou as well in anticipation of the added visitors with Sunfest this year.
The next general meeting of the Youbou Community Association will be in early April, although the board meets on a monthly basis. Leischner said the association is always looking for new members.
“We are a group that loves anything Youbou,” she said. “If you have a passion, if you have an idea then come to us. We really just want to see Youbou grow and thrive.”