File photo of Lewis Centre in Courtenay.

Comox Valley pilot project expands leisure access for youth

Comox Valley local governments are launching a pilot project to help ease financial barriers that may limit access to recreation programs for younger residents. The City of Courtenay, Town of Comox, Village of Cumberland and the Comox Valley Regional District are joining forces on a new Leisure for Everyone Accessibility Program (LEAP) for youth.

Applications are being accepted for eligible children and youth 18 and under to receive 52 free drop-ins, equivalent to one free drop-in per week in each community throughout 2022.

The program covers all drop-in programs, services and activities open to youth, including swimming, fitness, workout facilities, parent and tot programs, the LINC Youth Centre, childminding, skating, hockey and racquet courts.

Eligibility for the LEAP program as well as all financial access programs for each jurisdiction will be determined through the Statistics Canada Low Income Measure (LIM).

The pilot project focuses on youth as they have historically represented most users in recreation access programs – with participation declining considerably after age 13. Removing financial barriers that may be impeding participation will help support youth to continue healthy activities and lifestyle choices during adolescence. Organizers anticipate the LEAP program could serve hundreds of youth in the Comox Valley.

Comox Valley Recreation Commission chair Daniel Arbour said the program will ensure no youth are left behind.

“We know how important it is for young people to have access to recreation,” said Arbour. “This program will help build a strong foundation for youth, and support them with healthy habits as they reach teenage years. Following the conclusion of the pilot, we will review the outcomes to determine if the program could expand to other age groups.”

Proof of Comox Valley residency is required, along with BC ID or BC Services Cards for each family member. Additional income verification may be required. To apply, or for more information, visit any Comox Valley recreation centre:

•CVRD Sports Centre – 3001 Vanier Dr., or Aquatic Centre – 377 Lerwick Rd., Courtenay

•Town of Comox Community Centre – 1855 Noel Ave., Comox

•City of Courtenay Lewis Centre – 489 Old Island Hwy., or Florence Filberg Centre – 411 Anderton Ave. Courtenay

•Village of Cumberland Recreation Centre – 2665 Dunsmuir Ave., Cumberland

In addition, recreation departments in Comox, Courtenay, Cumberland and the CVRD each have distinct financial access programs designed to provide healthy lifestyle opportunities to residents facing financial challenges. To reduce administrative barriers, reciprocal agreements exist between the CVRD and each jurisdiction, so residents only need to complete one application form, regardless of the program for which they are applying.

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