Duncan Junior council brings youth perspective

After three years serving as the junior mayor of Duncan, Jenni Capps’s term ended last week.

After three years serving as the junior mayor of Duncan, Jenni Capps’s term ended last week.

During her time in office, Capps, 23, said she has learned a lot about municipal politics and intends to make a run for a councillor seat in the Municipality of North Cowichan during the next election in 2018.

“I have always been interested in politics, and joining the junior council was a cool opportunity to get involved in initiatives that are geared toward young people in the community,” she said.

“It’s been a great experience. The elected councillors and mayor were very supportive and came to many of our meetings to help us learn the political system, and city staff were amazing with all their assistance.”

Duncan’s junior council started in its present form three years ago with the task of taking the concerns of young people in the Cowichan Valley to local governments.

Junior council is limited to people 25 years of age and under, and consists largely of current and former high school students. Junior councillors now serve two-year terms.

The other six members of the outgoing council are Chelsea George, Andrew McAully, Emma Kononowicz, Brittany Blouin, Raven Myren and Susannah Coons.

Recruitment for the new junior council will begin in the fall.

Capps is the owner of a small business called CruelTeaFree, which specializes in media production and consulting, and she has also worked as a youth counsellor and  a coffeehouse barista.

She said junior council worked on a number of worthwhile projects over the last year, including those dealing with social justice and environmental protection.

Capps said the council was given a budget of $3,000 from the City of Duncan for the first time this year to help pay for its many programs and initiatives.

“We’ve hosted river clean ups along with the Cowichan Watershed Board and started a street-harassment campaign in local schools after it was identified as a big concern among youth here,” she said.

“We held workshops with the students, put up flyers and held other activities related to the issue. It went really well. I’m not finished with politics yet, and I hope I’m successful in my second attempt to win a seat in North Cowichan in 2018.”

Michelle Staples is the city councillor from Duncan who has worked as a liaison between the regular and junior councils.

She said one of the most significant initiatives the junior council embarked on is the campaign for all committees and commissions in the area, both inside and outside the City of Duncan, to have youth members with full voting powers.

“The youth bring a different perspective and energy to these groups, and it even has positive impacts on the way the rest of the members of these committees and commissions interact with each other,” she said.

Staples said Duncan’s junior council also worked with the handful of other junior councils in the region at the last meeting of the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities in April.

They held workshops to bring a youth perspective, and explain what youth can contribute, to the annual gathering of municipal politicians on the Island.

“Those workshops were completely full,” Staples said.