I have spent years of my life investing in the next generation. I want to see that investment grow here, in Calgary.
Last year, CBC reported that despite Calgary being “one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada, those aged 20-24 are the only shrinking age group.” But why?
As a high school teacher, I often ask my students what they plan to do after graduation. They say they want to leave the city and head to Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Kelowna, Ottawa, Halifax—the list goes on.
There is already a fight for talent in our country, and I promise you this: The students that leave take with them immense potential and talent that would’ve anchored Calgary’s future in something bold and innovative.
Why are our youth leaving?
"It's a lot of people who don't really see a future for themselves there," Chloe Loblaw said.
To be a major city in Canada, and yet have youth who do not see a future for themselves here, is an unacceptable reality. Young people are moving to cities they feel have embraced a diversity of people, thought, and opinion—cities that build vibrant arts and culture scenes, and provide plenty of education and industry options.
Young Calgarians may see a life for themselves in many other places, but I am committed to seeing them make that life here.
Let’s see our next generation grow in Calgary.
Deborah Wong, an organizer with Calgary’s Future said that “[Calgary youth] don't feel like they are being heard or valued by decision makers."
It is only natural that people seek out places to live where they feel heard and valued—it’s a bare minimum, really. So as part of my commitment to Calgary, I asked young people what they want to see for their city so that I know what I need to build as Calgary’s next Ward 8 City Councillor.
Here are some of the responses:
“I want to live in a city that provides opportunities for growth for future generations,” said Cassidy Osadchuk
“I want to live in a city where artists can thrive” and where they are “proud of their young people for trying to make social change.” said Yaisha Stilwell
I want to live in a rich urban environment that encourages alternative forms of transportation such as walking, biking, and public transit,” said Oscar Dewing.
The numbers have been quantified, and the stories are wide ranging and varied. The only question left is, are we ready to commit to doing the work necessary to support our next generation?
My Commitment to Calgary’s Next Generation
If we are not thinking two generations, five generations, seven generations ahead, we are doing ourselves a disservice. It all starts with ensuring that we are constantly including young people at the table as we look to let our city evolve.
Here is my commitment:
I will immediately implement a Ward Youth Council that will give young people, almost literally, a seat at the city building table. In collaboration with Calgary’s artistic and creator community, I will consistently advocate for the expansion of Calgary’s arts and culture scene, supporting strategic investments at every opportunity. I will also pursue intentional relationships with Calgary’s post-secondary institutions to make sure that Calgary continues to cultivate innovation right here at home.
Cities are inherited. What was built was left for us. What we now build is what we leave behind for the next generation. That is why I am committed to building a city that we can be proud to leave our children. Our youth know exactly what type of world they would like to inherit and I commit to invite them, engage them, listen to their stories, and empower them to be city builders.