Youth

Regional council to bring back Youth Advisory Committee

A motion to reform the committee was unanimously approved Tuesday

Lilian Barraclough, with iMatter, is excited that the report finally made it on the council’s agenda.   Annie Jolicoeur

Starting in September, a group of 15 to 24-year-olds from diverse ethnic and social backgrounds will advise Halifax regional council on issues considered important to their age group.

Council gave its approval Tuesday to reinstate the Youth Advisory Committee, as a two-year pilot project, after it was dismantled over four years ago. The vote was unanimous.

Coun. Lindell Smith said it may be considered cliche to say, but he finds youth “are the driving factor of society.”

“Everything about engaging youth is important,” he said in an interview after the meeting.

According to the 2016 Statistics Canada census, 15 to 24-year-olds form about 13 per cent of the Halifax Regional Municipality’s population, compared to 25 to 64-year-olds who account for 56.3 per cent. 

Smith said some of the people who will be sitting on the Youth Advisory Committee might someday run for council. Engaging them in the process now is beneficial, he added.

IMatter, an organization that supports youth involvement in their community, has been pushing for this for months.

“I think it’s great that we finally got the report passed,” said Lilian Barraclough, a representative for the organization who was at council for the vote.

Each selected member will hold their position for one year, but they can be reappointed once that term is over. They can expect to attend 10 meetings throughout the year. Some details of the committee are still unclear, including how youth will be able to apply as candidates.

Barraclough said iMatter is planning to be involved in the designing of the application process to ensure it’s fair and effective.

The previous advisory committee ran from 2006 to 2013. According to a staff report prepared for council, transportation was an issue for youth who were part of that committee. This is why, in the revised edition of the committee, members will be able to attend the meetings via a video conference.

The report also noted reasons why the previous committee dissolved. These included an inability to achieve minimum attendance because of “school schedules, transportation barriers, work commitments and availability of councillors to attend the meeting.”

The new Youth Advisory Committee, which will come into effect Sept. 1, will have a budget of $10,000. As a pilot project, it is expected that adjustments will be made along the way to better respond to the youth’s needs to keep them engaged.

“We have to be open to find out what does work to engage youth in our municipality,” said Coun. Steve Craig.