Teenagers and young adults hoping to influence what goes on at city hall will have to wait another few months.
Halifax regional council is reviewing applications for a 12-person youth advisory council. Those chosen are expected to start their duties by late January, several months later than expected.
Lily Barraclough, a university student who lobbied for the committee, is frustrated it’s taken so long, but understands the delay.
“There are a lot of aspects of the committee that still need to be figured out,” said Barraclough, who’s studying environmental science at the University of King’s College. “I think it is best to start it when things are better figured out, so that it can both be a better experience right away and hopefully be replicable once the pilot is finished.”
Amanda Reddick, a community youth developer for the municipality, said the previous youth advisory committee was created in 2006 and dissolved by the municipality in 2013 because there was no infrastructure or support from municipal council.
Council approved this latest version as a pilot project in January 2018. At that time, the plan was to have the committee in place for Sept. 1.
Reddick said council wants to ensure the new committee works well with the HRM and is sustainable. The committee has a budget of $10,000 for the 2018-19 year.
“It’s a legislated committee now where the youth will gather once a month and look at the priority council area, and branch out to the youth’s special interests and issues coming up,” said Reddick.
Committee members will meet with municipal councillors, community organizations and business groups and offer feedback. A committee representative will also meet monthly with regional council to provide a youth perspective to municipal policies, including those related to climate change and transportation.
Reddick said a youth perspective has been lacking for a long time within the HRM, especially on policies that affect youth.
“We had to have a lot of meetings to think how do we create this committee to last, keep youth interested and applying,” she said.
Reddick said there are “many” applicants, but she didn’t specify a number.
The committee is open to HRM residents aged 15 to 24. The goal is to have each area of the HRM represented.
Barraclough didn’t apply, but hopes the committee plays a key role in municipal decision making.
“There is a lot of will in HRM to support the youth committee now that might not have been there before, which means that our voices will be taken into account to a greater extent,” said Barraclough.