Youth look ahead to rekindled council

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Twelve young St. Albertans will meet in the new year to hash out some of the issues facing youth in the city.

Ben Throndson, Conmeju Fregene, Jarrod Sokul, Olivia deBourcier, Emily Brooks, Chelsey Tattrie, Martin Rudolf, Sisan Fregene, Liam Kachkar, Kennedy Love, Sophia Qaderi and Kyle Ferguson will sit as members of the city’s new youth council, with Coun. Ray Watkins joining them as a 13th member.

St. Albert has not had a youth council since the last one dissolved in 2006. Now, the re-established group will advise city council on issues affecting youth.

Throndson, who has spent the past couple of years advocating for the youth council’s establishment, said he expects the council will start to discuss priorities and perhaps lay the groundwork for a strategic plan when it meets in January.

How youth use transit in St. Albert and the issue of youth homelessness are two things he wants to see the council take a look at.

“A lot of the issues I’m hoping the youth council will tackle this year, and perhaps in future years, are issues that affect all citizens of St. Albert – but perhaps with a perspective on how they impact youth in particular,” he said.

Throndson said he’s excited to meet his fellow youth council members in the new year and is thankful city council – both former and present – have supported the youth council’s development.

He is also happy there will be a member of city council sitting on the youth council.

“I think the council member who’s on the committee will be able to add a lot of perspective and help us learn about municipal government at the same time,” he said.

Youth council member Sisan Fregene said one topic he hopes to bring to the table, once the council starts meeting, is the lack of connection for youth who live in St. Albert.

That’s a struggle he has personally faced.

“From the 18 to 24 age range, I feel that often when (we) want to socialize with each other or get to know people, (we) go to Edmonton instead of staying in St. Albert,” he said.

Fregene said he decided to put in an application to sit on the youth council after being involved in his mother’s campaign during the October municipal election. His mother, Ufuoma Odebala-Fregene, ran for a seat on council.

“When she told me that there was going to be a youth council, I figured I’d want to be a part of it,” he said.

For youth council member Sophia Qaderi, the youth council provides an opportunity to engage youth and push the city to reduce its environmental footprint.

“We are doing very well as a city but there is always room for growth in all departments,” she said.

Qaderi has attended Edmonton’s youth council meetings in the past as a general member. She said that she has always looked forward to working with youth and leaders in St. Albert.

“Now that the opportunity is present to make an impact here, I could not let it slide,” she said of St. Albert’s youth council.

“I am also looking most forward to hearing what other concerns and suggestions are, and how we as youth can be part of the solution.”

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