Halifax will be bringing back the Youth Advisory Council next year after it was dissolved in 2013.
The youth council was unanimously approved by Halifax regional council’s executive standing committee last month.
Students from the University of King’s College and Halifax West High School partnered up with iMatter, a youth climate change action group. They made a presentation in April 2017 to the Halifax City Council to bring back the council, which was previously cancelled after issues with attendance.
Lilian Barraclough, a second-year student at the University of King’s College and program facilitator for iMatter, says the new council is “a really important way to engage with where [we’re] living and [our] community.”
The Youth Advisory Council will be comprised of young adults, aged 15-24, who will advise the city council on issues that affect local youth.
In an interview with The Signal, Coun. Lindell Smith said that he considers youth to be the driving factor of society, further claiming that engaging youth in the process now will be beneficial.
“Everything about engaging youth is important,” he said.
Barraclough, 20, says that climate change is one of the most important issues for youth to have a say on.
“It’s really valuable to have youth at the forefront, pushing for climate action because we’re going to be the ones living with effects of climate change, especially in coastal cities like Halifax,” she says.
When sea levels rise “it’s going to immediately affect our lives,” she says.
Before their presentation in April 2017, iMatter presented the regional council with an environmental report card in February, giving the city a C+ overall. The city received a C in ‘carbon removal,’ as well as a C- in both ‘zero emissions plan’ and ‘renewable energy.’ However, the city also received an A+ in the ‘waste’ category, which considers the waste reduction per person in Halifax.
Majoring in environmental science with a minor in the history of science and technology, Barraclough works for iMatter approximately 10 hours a week and will be directly involved in the creation of the council.
Barraclough also emphasized the importance of municipal government when it comes to tackling climate change.
“Things can get moved through in cities a lot faster than at the provincial or federal level. You can see more immediate changes.”
It’s also important for youth to be involved, says Barraclough, because it provides a community for young people who otherwise might nd their activism isolating, especially for those in high school.
In her high school, Barraclough was known as the “eco geek.”
“People always used to say to me, ‘well, if the world doesn’t end in 50 years, it’s because of you.’”
Barraclough laughs. “But I don’t actually want to be the only one who is doing this.”