City of Nanaimo gives go-ahead for youth advisory council

NANAIMO – City council approved a measure that will establish a youth advisory council.

Nanaimo city council has approved a measure that will establish a youth advisory council.

Nanaimo city council has approved a measure that will establish a youth advisory council.

Council gave approval for the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council on Jan. 13 and city staff have begun preparing its mandate and objectives. Once established, the 12-member council will meet twice a year with Mayor John Ruttan and twice a year with city council, with the aim of offering advice on civic matters from the point of view of youth and advising on youth-related topics.

The advisory body, comprised of 15- to 24-year-olds, will also engage Nanimo-area youths on municipal matters while gaining a better understanding about local government.

Ruttan said a timeline has not yet been determined for when city staff will complete the mandate and objectives but getting the advisory council up and running is a matter of importance.

“I’d like to see [mandate and objectives] in the mid-spring if we can – March, April if it can be done,” Ruttan said. “It’s a priority and we’re going to do what we can to get it going and I think all of council endorses it and I certainly feel very strong about it and I think it’s something we’re not going to sit back on. We’re going to get this going as quickly as we can.”

The youth council will have a yearly budget of $3,000, which will go toward hospitality for meetings – food and space rental for larger meetings – and sending youth councillors to conferences and events.

According to the city, the budget is consistent with expenses for other advisory committees.

“It’s very hard to establish something without people saying, ‘How can you put a dollar figure to it before you even meet?’” Ruttan said. “What we’re trying to say is, we’re serious about this thing, we realize it will take a financial commitment and we budgeted that amount to start with to get it running because it’s important.”

The youth advisory council was first suggested by Coun. George Anderson, who wanted to give youth an outlet to voice opinions and learn about local government, and Ruttan agrees with giving a forum for young people.

“I’m concerned and a lot of other people are, certainly on council, that maybe we have created an environment where the youth of today are disinterested in politics and it’s a concern to me,” Ruttan said. “They’re the people that are going to be looking after the way this city runs and this community runs and the country runs in the future.”

Nanaimo News Bulletin