Town of Oakville Councillor for Ward 7, Jasvinder Sandhu, has been selected as a member of the Youth Engagement Advisory Council at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Annual Conference this year.
In an interview with Can-India, Councillor Jasvinder Sandhu pointed out that she was one of the three younger councillors (40 and younger) out of a total of 14 councillors for the Town of Oakville.
“Through initiatives like my internship program, the idea is to increase engagement in many ways. Specifically, I think there’s a need to help younger people understand how much of a daily impact a municipality has on their lives. With around 30% voter turnout in municipal elections, demonstrating how we can make an impact is a strong driving force for many to vote later in life. The internship program offers a stipend here in Oakville and I hope we can spread ideas like this and my basketball drop-in program to ensure folks see how a being a councillor is accessible, fun and engaging,” she added.
Councillor Sandhu sees an active role for youth, given their ability for an innate social media engagement. This allows them to really do anything an older adult can.
AMO represents the interests of municipalities on policy and program matters that fall within provincial jurisdiction. The Youth Engagement Advisory Council is comprised of only six young elected municipal officials representing different areas of Ontario. The goals of this council are to increase the participation of youth in municipal government in Ontario through measures that reflect the regional, cultural, social and gender diversity of the province.
Furthering youth engagement, Sandhu started a volunteer internship initiative with her office earlier this year. The first successful cohort wrapped up just last month and the positions ended up being paid honorariums. “I am really looking forward to the next cohort beginning in the coming days and continuing to see the level of inquisitiveness and commitment from these high school students,” says Sandhu.
It is really important to engage youth at the municipal level and get them to play an active role in the growth of urban Ontario, however, given that the incumbency advantage enjoyed by city councillors all but ensures a job for life. Without term limits, many councillors refuse to vacate their seats and allow younger and promising people to take their places. With no path forward, it is no surprise that most end up drifting directly into provincial and federal politics. -CINEWS