03/18/2015 02:40 EDT | Updated 05/18/2015 05:59 EDT

Langley youth bus program halted by lack of funding

A bus program in Langley that acts as a mobile drop-in centre for youth is shutting down because it can't find ongoing funding.

Project Reach Out, created by ACCESS Youth Outreach Services, provides a safe space for youths aged 12 to 23, every Friday and Saturday night.

The bus program began in the Tri-Cities 10 years ago and expanded to Langley in 2011. But the program's creator Jerome Bouvier says a lack of long-term funding means the Langley service will end on Mar. 28.

"You never know one month to the next what's going to happen," Bouvier said in an interview with The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

"And unfortunately, we were able to just limp along the last couple of years, and it finally came to an end where we just couldn't find the dollars that we needed to continue with it."

The program costs over $100,000 to run. Shuttle buses, which have been converted into drop-in centres, would head out to places where youth hang out on the weekends and offer them a place to access food, clothes, and information about sexual health, drug prevention and substance abuse.

The buses also act as a place for youth to talk to outreach workers.

Langley Mayor Ted Schaffer says the city had offered Project Reach Out a grant. Bouvier says the money could only be used for capital purchases, whereas he needs money to pay staff and for other operational purposes.    

"When you're having a program like ours, where you can actually go to where the kids are at, bring services to where the kids are, and have those conversations with them, then it makes it a lot more valuable and the kids respond to it because it's different and it's unique," he said.

To hear the full interview with Jerome Bouvier, click on the audio labelled: Langley youth bus program shutting down