A London group is calling on local youth to highlight challenges bogging down the community.
The London Youth Advisory Council is launching its annual hunt for youth councillors to take on a year-long political position overlooking a ward in their city.
Up to 15 Londoners between the ages of 15-25, with no political background necessary, are publicly elected to learn about the city and report back to full council. The panel intends to point out challenges across the city through the millennial lens.
Amir Farahi, former LYAC youth councillor, was one of London’s youngest candidates to run for council in 2014. Although defeated, he says the boost of encouragement came from his colleagues at LYAC following a year on the panel.
“(LYAC) has done a tremendous job at getting young people involved in local politics,” he said. “London has some of the toughest problems and challenges that you could come across and with that comes opportunities to get involved and make a difference.”
This year, LYAC is giving candidates full autonomy to create a platform to set the year’s political agenda. The election process change comes after years of including a referendum question within the application.
Farahi is happy with the application’s focus on the flexibility in pointing out local issues. He says millennials scope out issues through a different lens that brings in a much needed perspective.
“We have been neglected by upper levels of government for many years,” he said. “The city is very boring. (Students) have nothing to do on Saturdays and Sundays other than to hit up Richmond Row, the bars and the clubs or go to Masonville or White Oaks… It’s just not exciting.”
However, London’s issues go beyond garnering student engagement, but into poverty, unemployment and public transit, he said.
Once elected, councilors have the responsibility of attending weekly meetings discussing a variety of issues including all governing facets n the city. The panel is encouraged to work alongside city councilors and attend community events, hold focus groups, and reach out to local leaders.
The LYAC applications are open to the public until April 8, leading up to the voting process from April 30 to May 6.