Berm Out wraps up in Gananoque

The third year of the Berm Out program in Gananoque is wrapping up this week.

The Gananoque Police Service collaborated with the YMCA of Eastern Ontario, the Town of Gananoque, the United Way, RNJ Youth Services, and the Gananoque Fire Department to provide a drop-in program for teens during the summer at the Gananoque waterfront at Joel Stone Park at the command post for the local police and fire services – set up with benches, an office and power.

“That’s the mobile youth hub that we use as the headquarters,” said Police Chief Scott Gee. “It’s a mobile youth centre.”

“Through numerous consultations, and most of those have occurred with our municipal drug strategy with our youth, our youth have told us they wanted a safe space to gather,” added Gee. “That is what this initiative provides.”

Gananoque police see the program as a positive response to what they have been hearing from local youth.

“We see a lot of the local youth from Gananoque and TLTI coming to town for the summer days,” said Gee. “And the Berm Out trailer has been a focal point for youth in the area again in 2023 this summer.”

Funding for the Berm Out program was provided by partner agencies.

The United Way provided $10,000, the Town of Gananoque provided $15,000, and Gananoque police and fire services donated use of the mobile command trailer to use as the drop-in space.

The YMCA covered the remaining budget of $5,000 as a demonstration of its strong commitment to supporting teens with opportunities for healthy activities and positive social connections. City Cruises by Hornblower supported the program by providing parking for staff and a financial donation to support the program.

The Berm Out was staffed by youth workers from the YMCA and RNJ Youth Services every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. during July and August.

“We increased this year with an additional day this year with Saturdays,” said Gee.

“We’re pleased the town has recognized the voices of our teens and played a key role in making this a reality,” said Gee. “We have a number of youth groups and working groups that provide insight into youth voices. That’s important.”

Gee expects this program to continue into its fourth year next year.

“All indicators are right now that we have the support of the municipality, the United Way and the YMCA (going forward),” said Gee. “Barring any unforeseen changes, we see the support there to continue to the program for next year as well.”

(Keith Dempsey is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Brockville Recorder and Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.)

Keith Dempsey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times