Surrey First mayoral candidate Tom Gill says if elected he will set up a “Mayor’s Youth Council,” to ensure youth “have a real say” in the city’s future.
Gill said he wants youth ages 16 to 24 to “weigh in” on decisions regarding everything from affordable housing and transit, to recreation programs and public safety.
“We have a lot going for us here in Surrey and one of the best things is the age of our citizens,” said the four-term councillor turned mayoral hopeful. “We have one of the youngest populations in the country with more than a third of our population under 19 years of age. That’s a big advantage for Surrey, particularly when we’re talking about the future. I want to make sure our young people have a stake in the future of their city, but if they’re not at the table it’s hard to feel like you’re being listened to.”
Gill commits to having the council set up by next March and estimates it would cost $1 million per year, which would be part of the slate’s five-year $30 million public safety plan.
The youth will be selected through a city-wide nomination process, noted Gill, and will be modelled after similar youth councils in cities such as Calgary, Boston, Los Angeles and Toronto.
“Surrey’s youth have an incredible energy when it comes to their hometown and I want to put that diversity and decision-making to work for all of us in the years ahead,” he remarked.
Surrey First council candidate Paul Hillsdon said the slate “represents a new generation of leadership, an enthusiastic and talented group of women and men committed to doing the very best for Surrey. Part of that commitment includes giving a real voice to young people, because we need their ideas and energy to build an inclusive city that works for everyone.”
Ashley Grewal is director of Youth Transforming Society, a non-profit youth volunteer organization based in Surrey.
In a release, she said the group is “pleased Surrey First recognizes the importance of youth and the contributions we’re able to make to our city.
“In less than seven years we’ve grown to 150 dedicated volunteers as we work in the community to highlight and help local and global causes,” Grewal added. “Young people are certainly able to make a real difference, and a youth council is a practical way for Surrey’s next generation to get involved in the important issues that are shaping our city’s future.”