A new youth and senior’s centre is set to open in Petrolia in May.

Petrolia councillors approved the project put together by the staff at the Oil Heritage District Community Centre. In a report to council, Dave Menzies, the director of facilities and community services, writes one of The Centre’s goals was to develop a youth centre.

After meeting with several community groups, staff from The Centre have decided to set up a six-day a week centre at some unused office space at Lambton County Developmental Service on Robert Street. The drop in centre will offer kids from Grades 6 to 10 a fun and safe environment to relax, socialize, play games, snack and do homework, according to the report.

Youth will be charged a $30 a year registration fee and can fill out their registration at the community centre.

OHDCC staff will be on site when the drop-in centre is open.

Seniors will share the building with the youth. They’ll be able to stop by for a fee to “safely socialize in a rec room/kitchen table style setting.”

Most of the programming for seniors and teens will be separate with the teens using the drop-in centre after school hours, with extended hours on Friday. Seniors can drop in between 11 am and 2 pm three days a week.

The staff estimates it will cost about $38,000 a year to run the drop-in centre. The budget shows about $16,400 for wages with the majority of the funding coming from The Centre’s budget. More than $10,000 will go to rent and utilities and approximately $9,000 will go to computers, WiFi, and supplies for crafts.

The group has already received a $10,000 donation for the project. The town is committing $11,000 to the project this year.

Another $15,500 will come from service clubs, government grants and fundraising.

Council was supportive of the program although Councillors Mary-Pat Gleeson and Ross O’Hara voiced concerned about on-going funding for the drop-in centre.

But Gleeson says a drop-in centre may help encourage students to stay in the community in the long run. “I read a report which said kids go to university and never come back – but kids who have a really good experience in the community and learn to be involved in the community will come back.”

Registrations will be accepted April 1 and the centre is expected to open in May.