City to invite local youth to have a say in municipal decisions
Andrew Ikeman | Fulcrum Staff
Illustration by Mathias MacPhee
The mayor of Ottawa is opening up the doors of City Hall and giving the city’s youth a chance to have their voices heard by their local government. Mayor Jim Watson will be hosting a youth summit on Friday, Oct. 12, open to all youth between the ages of 16 and 25. The summit is modeled after last year’s seniors’ summit that was chaired by the mayor.
“The purpose is really straightforward: we want to try and engage young people from all spectrums of life,” said Watson. “Street kids, student council presidents, rural kids, people in the urban core… and find out how we can do a better job of meeting their needs and expectations.”
The mayor has named ward 12 councillor—and University of Ottawa alumni—Mathieu Fleury as the honorary chair of the summit. Fleury is looking forward to hearing what the youth of Ottawa have to say.
“The idea is for us to better understand [youths’] needs, and what they see as barriers,” said Fleury. “We are looking for the participants and also for the city staff to come together, and then come back with five to 10 very tangible things we can implement.”
In the lead-up to the summit, the mayor is also holding a photo contest called Youth Pic Ottawa, and is asking local young photographers to take pictures they believe best represent the city. The photo contest will be facilitated by Child and Youth Friendly Ottawa, and the submitted photos will be displayed in City Hall on the day of the summit.
“[Youth Pic Ottawa] is designed to engage young people to take a picture of what they think their Ottawa represents,” said Watson. “It is a creative way to get young people—through their lens and their eyes—to tell us what they think of Ottawa. It could be a picture of a homeless person on Rideau Street, or the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill, or their friends at a restaurant—it’s really up to them what they think best represents their view of Ottawa.”
Students at the U of O will be able to attend the conference and give their input on the state of the city. Sean Campbell, a fourth-year honours history student, is excited to see the new summit come to Ottawa.
“It’s a gateway,” said Campbell. “It’s [being] able to tell the very heart of the administration in this city what exactly [needs to be] done to help things and to have things fixed.”
Watson also emphasized that the summit is meant to bring together young people from all over Ottawa, and will hopefully serve to better the relationship between the city and its youth.
“We want to get people, French, English, from all demographics, from [the U of O], Carleton [University], La Cité [Collégiale], Algonquin [College], people in high school—a full range [of students],” said Watson.
Registration for the summit, which is limited to 200 participants, opened on Sept. 10. You can register at ottawa.ca/youth and submit photos to cayfo.ca. The event will be broadcasted live online, and the Twitter hashtag is #ottyouth.