Project Comeback plans initiative to retain youth

Chase committee works towards implementing a project to keep young people or encourage them to return to town.

The surveys are done, a workshop has taken place and now Chase’s Project Comeback initiative is working towards implementing a project that will help retain youth or encourage their return after leaving the rural community for a time.

Natalya Melnychuk is the Project Comeback co-ordinator, and she has been connecting with people in the area in an attempt to identify  and share knowledge on what interests youth in the community of Chase.

A community survey was completed by 97 respondents and last week saw a workshop attended by approximately three dozen people, who reviewed the data and brainstormed ideas for a specific project.

A combination of provincial and federal funding means Project Comeback has $24,000 to invest in a program that fits their mandate. The effort is slated to run for two years.

“Examples of projects that the working group are considering include the development of an activity centre, a tourism-oriented social enterprise near the waterfront, and an activity/recreation coordination role for the community,”  says Melnychuk. “The working group is still open to considering other projects as well.”

Melnychuk explains that the decline of youth in rural areas is not a problem that exists only in Chase.

“It has been identified as a major problem throughout the province and across the country,” she said.

In B.C. it is particularly a problem. Youth leave the rural areas while the baby boomers and retired community members are getting older, she explained.

“So you have these two trends that are playing together, which provide a bit of an issue when you have services that need to be provided to people who still live in the community,” Melnychuk said.

There are five pilot communities that are looking at these issues including Williams Lake, Smithers and Kaslo.

Anyone with suggestions or who would like to become part of the working group  may contact Melnychuk at