Gray proud of youth councillor position

May 22, 2024, 4:53 pm
Ashley Bochek

Town Councillor Murray Gray, Molly Martens, and Principal Sherrie Meredith speak to McNaughton grade 10 students about the youth councillor position.

“I know in the past few years it has turned out to be the idea I am most proud of because I think it has had the most influence on our community. It is hard for one person to have any influence over the community, it takes everybody in order to do it, but I am most proud of the idea to see it working so well. It shows that we do look to the future, that we aren’t just old people making decisions that don’t affect us. The town is a progressive community that has aspirations to grow to become more than what it is today and I think in order to attain those goals we need to engage our youth.”

“It has been really good. Just them being in the room is a start, but I think it has been a great experience for both of our youth councillors today because they have learned more and are taking more of an interest in it themselves. I think it just keeps us looking to the future. It makes us look ahead.”

“The youth councillors have given their valuable input, not on every aspect, what we talk about some days may not be interesting to them, but on certain things that are part of the future, they are really engaged and wanting to give us their opinion.”

“Economic Development is huge in order to grow. I think the biggest thing you can engage them in is the future and how we make this community young person friendly so this is where they want to live, raise their family, and work.”

Gray thinks having a youth councillor would be beneficial to other towns.

“I have actually talked to other towns about it, that they should engage in it and embrace it. You can’t just do it and go through the emotions, you have to embrace it and make sure they are part of the conversations. When done properly, I think every community, if they have aspirations to grow or to be a better community you should do it.”

Gray says a youth councillor should have the confidence to voice their opinion to other town councillors at meetings.

“The first quality they need to have is honesty so they don’t tell us what we want to hear, but what we need to hear. They have to be comfortable speaking to adults, someone who is confident enough to speak their mind. Those are probably the key things. Another thing is you are going to learn as you go. Both of our youth councillors when they started, in comparison to when they were done, they both grew immensely in the role and personally.”

Gray says he had to persuade other town councillors on the youth councillor position when it began. “I had to sell it. Now, obviously that we have experienced two of them, there is nobody against it, but when it was first brought up, some questioned it. Everybody is 100% on board now. Everyone realizes the value of it.”

He said he is proud of the two people who have stepped up to be youth councillors.

“I am so proud of Victor and Molly,” he said. “It is so awesome. They’re learning about the inside of decision making and how it affects people positively or negatively, and I think they can use these learning experiences in everyday life, in their careers.”

“They had to learn, but so did we. It changed the dynamics of town council for the last four years.”

“In the beginning we were going to do one year terms, but it was suggested by the school that two years would give them the opportunity to get comfortable for a year and then have a year where they are into the role.

“So, that is why we talk to the grade 10s and then they start in grade 11 so they have two years. I wouldn’t change that I think that works very well. Two years gives them an opportunity to get their feet on the ground and really get comfortable with the role. It is important.”