When the pandemic forced him out of the recreation industry, Tyler Young found himself stocking 451 toothbrushes in a grocery store display to make ends meet; that was when he knew he needed to get back into recreation.
He has since joined the Administration team for the Town of Fort Frances, as Recreation and Culture Manager.
When the pandemic hit, Tyler Young was laid off from his job in the private recreation sector.
“I was living in London, Ontario at the time the pandemic hit and we were all laid off,” Young said. “I have a wife and four kids, and we were trying to figure out what our next move was going to be. We could have stayed at home and collected CERB but I’m someone who has a strong work ethic, and I like to be busy. So we decided to move to the east coast — my wife has some family out that way.”
Young, his wife, and four children packed up and moved from Ontario to Summerside on Prince Edward Island.
“It was safer, the population density was obviously different than in Toronto,” Young said. “So we went that way. The challenge was, what was I going to do for work? At the time the only place that was really hiring was the grocery store, like Loblaws. So I ended up getting a position there managing a grocery store. They took me down east with no experience whatsoever.”
Young says the initial plan was to ‘ride out’ the pandemic in PEI, however, as the pandemic lingered on he found himself itching to get back into recreation.
“I made a decision earlier this year. I said, ‘I need to get back into recreation.’ It’s who I am as a person,” Young said. “I live and breathe recreation. I’m a mountain biker, I’m a runner, hiker, rock climber, you name it. It’s what I’ve grown up doing.”
According to a release from the Town of Fort Frances, Young has previously worked in municipal recreation for the Town of Oakville, the Town of Halton Hills and the Town of Guelph, in southern Ontario.
Young said he vividly recalls the moment he knew he needed to leave the grocery store.
“I remember the exact moment actually,” he said. “It was just before Christmas and I was hanging up 451 toothbrushes; literally – I counted them. I was hanging them up on a display, one after the other and I had a lot of time to think, so I started thinking to myself, I think this is it. I think this is the time to start to get back into something else.”
Young stayed at the grocery store through the busy Christmas season into February and then started looking for positions, hoping to get back to Ontario.
“I’m from Ontario so I want my children to be raised in this province,” Young said. “I like it, it’s enjoyable.”
Young saw the position available and applied. After going through an interview process he was hired and started in late May, after a 3,000-kilometre trek from the Maritimes.
As he is getting settled into the position, Young said he hopes to bring a service approach to the job.
“I like the servant leadership approach,” Young said. “When you’re in municipal recreation you work for the community, and I love the concept of community. I’ve lived in Toronto and I’ve lived in those areas and seen instances where community doesn’t exist, where you don’t even know your neighbour’s name. You all go to work every day and just run that rat race and come home and back and forth. I’ve also seen the flipside of that, where you’re living in an area where people know you, they know your family and you reach out to your neighbour and there’s people to help.”
Young says he thinks recreation can play a big role in the way the community develops.
“Look at the sports centre. We are a hub, a community hub,” he said. “We want to make this a place where people from all walks of life from all across the community and even beyond, can come for whatever they need. I think that municipal recreation is the quickest and most direct avenue to really make that community piece flourish.”
Young comes to Fort Frances with his wife and four children, ages 10, eight, five, and two. Young said he and his family love to spend time outdoors. They enjoy biking year round, including fat-tire biking in the winter.
“From January to January we like to be on our bikes,” Young said. “We like to stay active, we hike a lot, I run, my oldest son is just starting to run with me now.”
In addition to physical activity, the family is also interested in the arts.
“We’re musicians, we like theater, that type of thing, all the arts,” he said. “My kids like putting together little movies and things.”
Young said his initial impression of Fort Frances has been very positive.
“This is one of the friendliest communities I’ve been to,” Young said. “And I’ve lived across southern Ontario. I’ve been in New Brunswick, I’ve been in PEI. The thing that stood out to me the most when I got here is how friendly and accepting residents are.”