Town supportive of youth council request

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council members expressed support for the possibility of establishing a youth council in Amherstburg but still had several questions about the concept.

Jacey Silvaggi from the Youth Council Coalition of Canada appeared before town council about forming a youth council with Silvaggi stating that the organization he was representing is “a not-for-profit that works to foster the development, success and influence of Canadian youth councils by determining areas of improvement and creating resources as well as networking and learning opportunities with the support of community partners and organizations.”

Silvaggi said there are 93 youth councils in Ontario but only two in Windsor-Essex County.

“We know there is a lot of untapped potential,” said Silvaggi.

According to statistics in Silvaggi’s presentation, as of 2016, 18.77 per cent of the Windsor-Essex population is between ages 10-24. That means municipalities without youth councils “lose the opportunity to hear from one in five residents,” said Silvaggi.

“Youth issues are everyone’s issues,” said Silvaggi. “Youth councils are tackling tough topics.”

Silvaggi noted that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also has a youth council. He said local municipalities including Kingsville, LaSalle and Essex have shown interest in forming youth councils and that the Youth Council Coalition of Canada would try to help cover costs by applying for a Windsor-Essex Community Impact Grant.

Councillor Diane Pouget asked if the group worked with The House Youth Centre.

“They do a lot of the work you mentioned in your proposal to us,” she told Silvaggi.

Pouget said The House offers “an excellent program” that is non-denominational and has been successful since the 1960’s.

“I want to make sure we’re not doing anything behind The House’s back,” she said. “It appears it could be a duplication of services.”

Councillor Rick Fryer said it was important to get youth involved and get them engaged in their communities. He recalled being a leader at The House and didn’t remember any opportunity to also being involved in a similar fashion with the town.

“If we don’t engage them now, we won’t have people sitting in these (council) chairs,” he said.

Fryer thanked Silvaggi for bringing the idea of a youth council before town council.

“I think this is a great initiative,” he said.

“This is wonderful, wonderful work you are doing,” added Councillor Joan Courtney, who wondered how the program would be administered.

Councillor Leo Meloche had similar questions about how it would be administered but did refer to the concept as “a great idea.”

Silvaggi said they would try and get representation from all schools in the area and that the coalition would help provide support for youth councils to help keep them going. CAO John Miceli said it has been his experience that it would be an application process to form what would be an advisory board to council on issues and provide a youth perspective. He noted his children have involvement on youth council’s in Windsor and provide recommendations to the mayor and council on issues.

“It’s not a duplication of services we are getting into,” he said, adding he would consult with The House Youth Centre when he prepared a report.

Town council directed administration to bring back a report on support of the YCC and that Amherstburg endorse the YCC grant application.

 

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