Young people voice their issues to candidates prior to municipal election
© Bonnie Learning photo
Davin Michelin spoke about some concerns he has a youth that he would like to see a new town council address after the election on Sept. 24. Gavin voiced his concerns at a youth forum held on Sept. 14, which was organized by candidate Tanya Michelin.
It was a humble — but important gathering — of youth and some municipal election candidates in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Sept. 14.
Tanya Michelin, one of 11 candidates running for council, organized a public ‘youth forum’ for 14-18 year olds, to ensure young people’s concerns weren’t forgotten come election day on Sept. 24.
Candidates Henry Windeler, Bert Pomeroy and Shannon Tobin also showed up to hear the concerns.
“Youth need to be involved in discussions regarding what the future holds for this community,” said Michelin prior to the start of the meeting.
“We know you’re not old enough to vote in this election, but it’s still important that you’re engaged in these discussions.”
Bert Pomeroy agreed.
“One thing I would urge a new council to do would be to consider a youth advisor,” he said. “You may not be able to vote, but you can certainly have a say and bring concerns to Council.”
A big issue on the minds of the handful of youth who did attend was a lack of recreational facilities, such as a youth centre.
When asked where the youth tend to hang out in the evenings or weekends, ‘Tim Horton’s’ was the unanimous response.
“We need a centre with pool tables, a food court and an arcade,” suggested Davin Michelin, who will turn 15 in November.
“A comfortable lounge area would be good, where we could hang out,” added Hannah Cooper. “I know we can go to our own houses, but our parents don’t want us hanging around all the time with our friends at home.” She noted a rock-climbing wall would be a great addition as well.
Davin also expressed the need for a new swimming pool complex, in a more central location.
“We definitely need an improved recreation facility,” noted Pomeroy.
“The current one (the Labrador Training Centre) is old and costly to maintain. It is something the town should be advocating to become a reality. Youth have to be a part of the planning process.”
Shannon Tobin said recreation is a big part of his campaign.
“The down hill ski hill, the Labrador Canoe Regatta — these are the kids of activities and events I enjoyed when I was growing up. But they have either closed down or diminished in size over the years. That is something I would like to work on if I get elected to council.”
Jennifer Shiwak, Youth Worker at the Labrador Friendship Centre, said the Town should look at partnering with various groups and organizations in the community to offer more variety to young people.
“This town is very focused on sports programming,” she noted. “There is a lot of work put into the softball fields, soccer programs, etc.
“But there is not really any alternative programs out there for young people who are not into sports, for example, clay work, arts and crafts, and so on.”
“School councils, youth groups and others need to be involved to get youth voices heard,” said Henry Windeler.
Other topics of discussion included the disappearing ATV trails due to development, the need to attract bigger retailers to the area for shopping, youth unemployment, lack of reliable cell phone service, drugs and alcohol problems in the community, and homelessness.
“I would like see a homeless shelter in the community,” said Hannah.
“There are people in the community we see on a daily basis that need somewhere to go.”
Michelin said although the turnout was small, she felt the discussion’s at the meeting were important.
“Talk to your friends about what we discussed here,” she said. “I look forward to working with youth if I am elected to council.”