With the Municipal Election around the corner, we are hearing from politicians on every issue from accessible transit, to more affordable housing, strengthening civic policies, and a greener future. But one thing we tend to not hear about enough is the need to increase voter turnout and engagement among our young people.
As a long-time advocate for youth, and participant in the North Shore Young Citizen’s Forum, one of my goals over the course of this election period is to, of course, speak about the issues, but also about who they impact. And the liveability and future planning of our city impacts people of all ages in North Vancouver, but the fact is young people are the ones who will inherit the future and any problems we do not act to solve.
Over the last few years, all of us have struggled with changes to our day-to-day life, whether adjusting the way you work, or how you manage your business, but young people particularly had a unique struggle. All our school-aged children had to adjust to a new way of learning, and many of them who are now voting age even had to finish high school during these years of covid. They have entered universities, the work force, and all the while been passionate advocates for issues like indigenous sovereignty, affordability, and a greener future.
The issues that face us at the municipal level are of incredible importance to our young people, and their futures. And we need to focus on how we can best serve them as much as we focus on growing our economy, building strong local infrastructure, and increasing affordability for our residents.
Having completed my Masters in Municipal Management and Environmental Studies, I know I can be a voice for a greener future for all, but my goal is to also focus on increasing municipal engagement among the young people of North Vancouver. As a millennial, I know our generation as well as Gen Z, and even Gen Alpha, have already faced many challenges with more to come as we seek to finish school, get good jobs that will sustain our plans for the future, and want to live healthy and robust lives in this beautiful city we call home.
The inclusion of young people is integral to building a healthy future for all of us. They are innovative, have unique experiences and ideas, and are not just leaders of tomorrow but leaders of today. As a politician, and hopefully as a future member of city council, it is my mission to help bring the voices and ideas of our city’s youth to the forefront as we tackle the issues that impact us all.
So whether you are a young person yourself, or care about the future of our city, remember to not just vote on October 15th, but to talk to your friends about voting. Talk to your kids, younger siblings, neighbours, and classmates about voting. Because we all thrive when we are engaged in municipal politics, and we can be leaders in youth voter turnout if we work together to make it happen.
Anna Boltenko is a candidate for North Vancouver City Council.