By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express
Spurred on by growing unemployment and what they perceive as a lack of voice in politics, one youth group is speaking up in an effort to be heard.
The Durham Youth Council (DYC) is set to have its inaugural meeting at the end of the month, following the group’s creation five years ago.
“We saw a region with some of the highest youth unemployment in the country and definitely in the province. We saw a young demographic in a booming region that wasn’t really being represented all that well by local politicians,” says Kyle Fitzgerald, the organization’s president, on DYC’s creation. “Essentially, we saw a void, and we decided to fill it.”
Fitzgerald, a Grade 12 student from All Saints Secondary School in Whitby and the student trustee for the Durham Catholic District School Board, will lead a group of 14 people ages 13 through 24 in monthly meetings on pressing issues in Durham Region.
“Transit is definitely one of the bigger issues in regards to Durham Region specifically,” Fitzgerald says. “Durham Region Transit voted to get rid of the student fare last year, which is definitely an issue for students. The extra $0.50 it costs to ride the bus now than it did last year may not seem like a lot to people earning a salary, but when you’re looking at a student, that adds up over the weeks if you ride it two times a day.”
Another issue Fitzgerald says the group will be focusing on is youth involvement in the election process.
“We’re also looking at youth engagement in democracy,” he says. “Especially in Durham Region, where you have below 30 per cent participation in municipal elections, and below 20 per cent when you look at young people, it’s definitely an issue you want to take on.”
The meeting, which is open to all, will be May 27 at 6:30 p.m. at Whitby City Hall. People interested in attending can RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.