Altona's youth council rep, Avery Fehr, has come back to the table with the results of his first official assignment. Council tasked the 8th grader with surveying the community's young people for their thoughts on local green spaces.
A splash park, expanded skate park, some more benches and added facilities at Ash Park were just a few of the ideas Fehr's classmates came up with during an entire timetable period dedicated to the discussion in school.
"It's a wanted space, and people like to go there because it's nice and open but more things could be nicer there," said Fehr when talking about the many possibilities they came up during the session.
He was asked to describe what he's learned through this process.
"People care about the community and what it has, but they want the spaces to offer more for them," he said.
Fehr added, it felt good knowing that Council trusted him with this work, noting he'll work to see some of these idea come to fruition. Fehr has also committed to continue to reach out to local youth to see what they'd like in the future.
After presenting his findings at a recent Committee of the Whole meeting, Fehr was asked to sit in on a few meetings for Council's Outdoor Spaces committee.
"I don't know much about it yet, but it feels kind of cool because I know it's a good thing to be in to help out the town and all the outdoor spaces."
Mayor Harv Schroeder said Council felt this was a good assignment for Fehr as outdoor spaces include a lot of areas that focus on youth and activities for them.
"It's important that we hear the insight from our youth, particularly for long term planning," he noted.
"He clearly has ideas and a passion to share on this topic, and we want to hear from him," said Schroeder. "Long term plans affect the youth of our community the most, and so we want to hear his thoughts."
"It's not surprising that we hear big ideas come from our youth, and that's a good thing," he added. "His ideas and the ideas of his peers are great, but we also need to ensure that we are reviewing those ideas to see if they are viable and sustainable for the community. Some of the ideas have been suggested before, and so we know that they are projects that are on peoples' minds and we will continue to review."
The Mayor added, large-scale projects are often led by a group of citizens who are passionate about their ideas, and dedicate their time to driving them forward. He pointed to examples including Access Field and the Altona Community Garden.
The previous Council and the town's Recreation team did place a bigger focus on Ash Park in recent years, and improvements have started to take shape including a picnic shelter and washroom facility.
Recently, Council has heard suggestions on a number of new outdoor initiatives like active transportation and a dedicated soccer pitch. Schroeder said these big picture items, including those suggested by the youth, will be discussed at Council's upcoming strategic planning session.