One of the most obvious features about Sunday’s all-candidates meeting was the age of the audience. Let’s just say there was no shortage of grey hair in the community centre auditorium.
Yet, many candidates made youth and young families the focus of their attention, especially when it came to the need for employment to both attract and retain our youth in Salmon Arm.
But the question is how to engage young people, from first-time voters to citizens with growing families, to be a part of the process?
One simple suggestion that relates to the all-candidates meeting itself is to provide free babysitting services. Many people with children simply can’t attend due to parental responsibilities, and most parents would rather stick needles in their eyes than take their children to such an event. Paying for a babysitter is out of the budget for many families and especially single parents. So why not offer child care for young children and some swim passes for older children to use while their parents try to educate themselves? Certainly the community centre is set up for it. We believe it would be a worthy contribution to democracy.
Another interesting idea brought forward by a few of the candidates is to host council meetings at Salmon Arm Secondary and Okanagan College. This would give a good opportunity for young people to see government in action and a better chance to use the question period offered at all city council meetings.
If we want to make this community a better place for young people, we need to make the process more accessible to them.