Youth get voice for environment, city endorses Blue Dot plan

Salmon Arm city council agreed to endorse an ecological initiative promoted by David Suzuki

In action: Salmon Arm Secondary environmental committee members with Mayor Nancy Cooper and teacher Graham Gomme.

In action: Salmon Arm Secondary environmental committee members with Mayor Nancy Cooper and teacher Graham Gomme.

Salmon Arm city council agreed to endorse an ecological initiative promoted by David Suzuki and welcome youth voices into their environmental discussions.

The Salmon Arm Secondary environmental committee presented a motion to Salmon Arm city council asking they endorse the principles of the Blue Dot Movement.

The Blue Dot Movement advocates for citizens’ rights to fresh air, clean water and safe food.

The initiative began when two groups of students presented resolutions to city council at a meeting held in the Salmon Arm Secondary gym in May. One group of students presented the Blue Dot initiative while the other wanted a student representative at council meetings.

Both presentations began as a project for a civics 11 class and now with the help of SAS teacher Graham Gomme, the two groups have come together to make both their goals a reality.

Gomme said of the 146 communities in Canada that have endorsed the Blue Dot Movement, few have begun with an initiative from youths.

Gomme said the students consulted with local businesses, the Salmon Arm Fish and Game Club and the United Church’s Kairos committee.

The students also consulted with Salmon Arm’s Environmental Advisory Committee before having the resolution approved at council.

“I came in expecting to be more intimidated but council was welcoming and inviting,” said Aidan White, one of the students involved in the presentation to council. “It was like talking to peers not someone above me.”

The SAS students also asked that they be included in Salmon Arm’s environmental committee. They committed to attend the monthly committee meetings and provide a youth perspective.

“We’re pretty thrilled to have that student voice at the table,” said Environmental Advisory Committee chair Tim Lavery.

Lavery said in future, one or two students would be formally made members of the committee.

Following the success of the Blue Dot motion at the city council meeting, a youth representative will be added to council in the future. Gomme said the student representative will likely have speaking rights at the meetings, but will not vote.