The City of Campbell River is looking for new members for its Youth Action Committee (YAC), an official council committee helping to bring younger perspectives to city plans and projects.
Each year, the Campbell River Youth Action Committee (YAC) is formed by up to 12 Campbell River youth in grades 9 to 12. They meet twice a month to share perspectives in city decision making, learn about local government, and give feedback on city projects and initiatives.
The committee, supported by two staff liaisons, Jennifer Furst and Chelsey Andrews, also steers youth-led projects.
For this year’s committee members, the city is seeking as broad a spectrum of representation as possible, said Andrews.
“We don’t want any set type of personality or any sort of common trait,” she said. “We are interested in hearing from young people who aren’t usually in extracurricular activities and after school clubs, who are maybe less represented.”
The YAC helps the city get 10 per cent of public input for projects coming from youth, a goal of the city’s 2013 Youth Engagement Strategy. Given this requirement, a role of YAC is developing and running surveys of their peers.
The information gathered helps ensure younger perspectives are considered in city planning, said Andrews.
“To have a bunch of adults in a silo in the city and making all the decisions — it’s not very realistic,” she said. “(The committee) reminds people doing their jobs day-to-day to check in with the younger generation and think about them when they are making decisions.”
Anna Bissonette, a four-year member of the committee, joined to give back to the community and because she saw a stigma that young people are apathetic or unwilling to act.
“I saw that youth are seen as people who do not care or are lazy,” she said. “But this group really does just fight back against that stigma and allows us to have a voice for the future.”
YAC meetings were the favorite part of Bissonette’s week.
“What I loved most about the meetings is that everyone had a voice and also had a chance to advocate for what they want,” she said. “It’s just overall a great way to see how you can come together at once and make a difference.”
The committee was composed of students she would not have otherwise interacted with, but together they ended up having common goals, she said. Together they were involved in efforts to reduce the use of single-use plastics, organized the Earth Week film festivals, and conducted a survey on curbside compost.
“Overall, we just wanted a better and brighter future for the community, and this committee really allows us to put our minds to action,” she said.
Anyone with an inkling of joining the committee should “take the leap,” she said.
“Youth are the future of this community, and to be a part of the change and be proud that you’re taking a stance about something you care about is really important.”