News Local

Staff looking into youth council

By Patrick Bales, The Orillia Packet & Times

Orillia's youth could soon get more input on the issues affecting the city.

The director of youth opportunities has been directed by council to provide information on the creation of a youth council in the city, which could contribute to "educating and empowering youth," allowing them to provide input and take action on local issues.

Coun. Jeff Clark brought the issue to the city council table Monday night.

"I feel it's really important to give the youth in our community - and young adults - a platform," Clark said. "There's a lot of issues and concerns that come forward - almost all of them - (where) our decision making process would really benefit from hearing the voice, great ideas and problem solving abilities of our youth."

Among the functions a youth council could perform include policy research and written proposals, community event co-ordination and establishing a general assembly, a sort of mock-council.

Clark praised the youth of Orillia with being "tuned in" to issues, not only on a global scale, but also directly impacting the day-to-day operation of the city.

"They have really important things to say about the issues we're dealing with," he added. "I don't think decision making should be solely left up to adults. I think we really need to consider the opinions, ideas and solutions."

The city has collected opinions and ideas from the city's younger residents, particularly through the youth opportunities community, but this will differ in the sense in that a youth council will give youth a chance to provide applicable solutions, Clark added.

Clark left a recent youth homelessness conference inspired to see this council come to fruition. The message there was there was a need to give youth space to make a difference, even if that means giving up some of your own.

"I just feel we need more youth perspective," Clark said. "I hope youth stay in our community, but whatever community they're in, the decisions that are made are going to affect them in the future."

The motion was greeted with enthusiasm by councillors Monday night. The report should be brought back later this year.

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