Petrolia youth committee focus of form in 2016

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Community groups will have a say in what a youth advisory committee in Petrolia might look like.

Councillor Grant Purdy raised the idea earlier this month suggesting the committee could advise council on a number of decisions from a youth perspective. The idea was put on hold so town staff could study just how the concept might work.

Monday, staff suggested it would be a good idea to bring all the groups dealing with youth together to talk about the concept and the purpose of a youth committee.

Ted Gravelle of the Central Lambton Petrolia Optimist says any idea which brings youth “to the forefront is a good thing” but worried the goals need to be “defined and refined” first.

“The whole idea of keeping youth involved in the community is a great idea and there are a number of groups already doing that but we need a good concept to keep the children involved with it.”

Mayor John McCharles echoed Gravelle’s concerns. “I am not sure of the purpose yet and I think that’s something that needs to be defined,” he told council. “I need to know what the purpose needs to be ….it should not be another group just to have a meeting.”

Town staff suggested and council agreed to a meeting of youth groups in the community to define what kind of a role a youth advisory committee would have and how the members would be chosen.

Councillor Joel Field is one of the members of council – along with Purdy and Councillor Liz Welsh – to spearhead the meeting. “I was really surprised how many organizations are youth oriented; I counted 20 or as many as 25. I support the motion to bring all the players together and I feel strongly if they talk about the needs and they see what is being address…to see if there is a gap and there is, how do we fill it.”

Purdy says there is lots of room to “massage” the concept into something that works and Councillor Mary Pat Gleeson agreed.  “I support working with kids and particularly in the area participatory democracy and I am grateful to Councillor Purdy that he reminded us kids need to be involved in the process, too.”

Purdy, Field and Welsh will work together to set up a youth forum at the beginning of the year.

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