NEWS BULLETIN file photo

NEWS BULLETIN file photo

OPINION: Youth advisory council has proven its worth to city

Youth council creates a collective voice, say guest columnists

BY GEORGE ANDERSON AND MICHAEL RIBICIC

In 2014, Nanaimo became a leader in local government by creating the Nanaimo Youth Advisory Council. The objective of the youth council was to create a platform for young citizens to be included in policy decisions and provide advice to local government. Through the youth council, they could advocate for their generation and have a say on the important issues affecting Nanaimo economically and socially. When applications first went out there was an overwhelming response. Youth were eager to be involved in the development of our city.

The NYAC worked towards goals of alleviating child poverty, increasing public transportation, and promoting youth engagement to other municipalities. Some accomplishments include: raising $1,000 for Nanaimo Food Share, holding roundtables with VIU and SD68 student leaders, successfully lobbying the Regional District of Nanaimo to direct 5,000 allocated transit hours to the busiest routes, and presenting to city council, the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities and the Union of B.C. Municipalities. By no means was this an unproductive group of young citizens.

NYAC last met in October 2018 and its terms expired in December of 2018. Former youth councillors and young citizens patiently waited for a call for applications, but that day never arrived. Instead, a year later, council accepted a staff recommendation to dissolve the NYAC, without consideration of the successes.

After the decision, former youth councillors organized, navigated the local government process, lobbied, and were able to convince city council of the value of preserving the youth council. However, city council stopped by only freezing their initial decision and holding NYAC in abeyance. This decision may stop the momentum that was being built. Moreover, until a call for applications goes out, the future of the Nanaimo Youth Advisory Council remains unclear. Fifteen former youth councillors signed a collective letter requesting mayor and council send out a call for applications within three months to allow the youth councillors to get back to work. Unfortunately, to date, there has been no response.

It is clear the youth council was effective – even if only based on its advocacy skills to maintain the structure of the youth council and ask for improvements.

Beyond the fact the skills and experiences are beneficial to youth councillors directly, they have an irrefutably positive ripple effect with their engagement in the community, organizations, with their families, other young people, and individuals who might not otherwise have been engaged in city affairs. The message is clear: Having a youth council benefits Nanaimo as a whole.

Former NDP leader the late Jack Layton said that young Canadians “need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.” The existence of the NYAC allows a collective voice of young citizens to be communicated to council. But this means truly engaging them on issues of policy, whether it is social housing, the environment or taxation. The skills these young citizens obtained will serve them when they become the taxpayers, workers and homeowners of Nanaimo.

City council needs to show leadership by creating a plan to engage youth with the NYAC, while adding the perspective of youth to all committees. NYAC is proof that investing in youth benefits the entire city.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Today’s decisions affect youths

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Youth council brought needed representation

RELATED: City of Nanaimo re-thinking decision to ditch youth advisory council

George Anderson is a former Nanaimo city councillor and Regional District of Nanaimo director and Michael Ribicic is former chairman of the Nanaimo Youth Advisory Council.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nanaimo singer Victoria Vaughn recently released an EP with local producer Austin Penner. (Photo courtesy Taylor Murray)
Nanaimo singer and recent VIU grad releases EP about becoming an adult

Victoria Vaughn’s ‘Growing Pains’ recorded with local producer Austin Penner

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has listed Harbour Air and Air Canada flights to and from Nanaimo, from April 3, 4 and 12, on its list of flights with COVID-19. (News Bulletin file)
COVID-19 cases reported for Air Canada, Harbour Air flights, says disease control centre

Nanaimo flights for April 3, 4 and 12 listed on BCCDC’s list of flights with COVID-19

Rebates through Clean B.C.’s Better Homes New Construction program are available, says the City of Nanaimo. (Vancouver Island University photo)
Energy-efficient home builds in Nanaimo eligible for up to $15K in rebates

All building permits issued on, or after, April 1, 2020 eligible, says City of Nanaimo

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Housing crunch or not, it’s illegal to live in an RV in Nanaimo

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

Heidi Sinclair, executive director of Nanaimo Community Kitchens, left, accepts a $13,500 donation from 100-plus Women Who Care Mid Island, represented by Nahanni Ackroyd and Shannon Gorgichuk. (Photo submitted)
Caring women in Nanaimo give generously to community kitchen society

100-plus Women Who Care Mid Island donate $13,500 to Nanaimo Community Kitchens Society

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Housing crunch or not, it’s illegal to live in an RV in Nanaimo

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Local carpenter Tyler Bohn embarked on a quest to create the East Sooke Treehouse, after seeing people build similar structures on a Discovery Channel show. (East Sooke Treehouse Facebook photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. carpenter builds fort inspired by TV’s ‘Treehouse Masters’

The whimsical structure features a wooden walking path, a loft, kitchen – and is now listed on Airbnb

Most Read