By: Aditi Dwivedi, News Writer
Metro Vancouver opened applications for a Youth and Education Advisory Panel on January 10. The aim of the panel is to involve youth and educators in the planning and infrastructure projects taken by Metro Vancouver to build an inclusive future for people living in the region.
It is, according to George Harvie, chair of Metro Vancouver’s Board of Directors, “committed to engaging audiences who may be impacted by or have an interest in our projects, policies, and plans.” In an interview with The Peak, Amanda McCuiag, director of communications at Metro Vancouver discussed the needs that led to the development of a Youth and Education Advisory Panel and what they hope to achieve.
McCuiag noted the plans and projects of Metro Vancouver, such as the liquid waste management plan and reducing sewer overflows, are about “the livability of the region.” What led to the idea of setting up a Youth Education and Advisory Panel was the “long-term and forward-looking” work needed to create a sustainable, clean, and functional environment. She added how “different teams in the organisation wanted to hear from young people” and how there was a sense of curiosity about what the younger generations felt about the different issues being tackled by Metro Vancouver.
The panel will have five representatives each from the high school group ages 13–18, the post-secondary group ages 18–25, and people working in K–12 education. The panel will function based on the information they receive on topics related to the development of Metro Vancouver’s plans. They will be encouraged to “pose questions, engage in discussion, and provide comments” on regional issues. Topics will range from managing wastewater, reducing solid waste, water conservation, taking action on climate change, plans for regional parks, and the delivery of K–12 programming, according to the press release.
McCuiag believes “the sense of feeling heard is a really important part of engagement,” and the reason why the youth feels ignored or unheard is because “change takes a long time and so it can feel like there is no momentum.” Which is why, she stated, Metro Vancouver is committed to telling youth their opinions are being taken into consideration.
According to McCuiag, Metro Vancouver is encouraging people from marginalized communities to participate. She acknowledged there are “equity seeking individuals who would like to participate but can’t because of other barriers,” like technological barriers or difficulty gaining access to resources. She noted they will work on how to “remove those barriers on a case by case basis.”
The Youth and Education Advisory Panel is accepting applications for representatives. The deadline for the application is February 3. Find out more about the application form and process on the Metro Vancouver website.