Prove young people can influence city decisions and seats on Nanaimo’s first youth advisory council could start to fill, according to city social planner John Horn.
The City of Nanaimo has seen a half-dozen people vie for a chance to join the mayor’s new youth advisory committee so far, leaving another six seats vacant in the weeks leading up to the application deadline.
Horn said he hopes to see more candidates and acknowledges it will be a challenge to spread the word and get “this off the ground.” While the response to a youth advisory body is positive, it’s still a novel idea for youth to have the ear of politicians, he said.
To fill more seats, he believes the youth council needs to show tangible benefits to young people.
“I think some of them have to get their heads around the idea that even though they are not …[homeowners] they can still have a role in city decision making,” Horn said.
Show young people the relevancy, influence and benefits of the council “and I think they will start coming.”
The City of Nanaimo created a new youth advisory council last January, with aims of giving future taxpayers a platform to address issues like urban planning, environment and public safety. The group, made up of young people aged 15 to 24, will have an ‘unprecedented’ level of access to city council for an advisory body, according to the City of Nanaimo.
Youth are currently being sought to sit on the council, but so far the city isn’t seeing the same uptake as its other committees. Horn says the challenge is that the advisory body is so new.
People want to sit on the environmental or social planning committee because they see them as a way to make positive change. “That hasn’t been established for the youth advisory committee,” Horn said.
Coun. George Anderson, who helped spearhead the council, believes the city just needs to do more to get the information to young people. He says there seems to be a desire among youth to have their voices heard and while not a lot of people have applied, he’s encouraged by the numbers so far.
Applications are accepted until March 31. If not enough people apply, the group will likely start small and continue to accept applications on a ‘rolling basis,’ Horn says.
For more information, please visit www.nanaimo.ca/EN/main/municipal/city-council/2956/mayors-youth-advisory-council.html.