youthaskA grass roots group of Owen Sound twenty-somethings have received a grant from the Laidlaw Foundation to pose questions to all Owen Sound municipal candidates on behalf of local youth, film their responses, and post the amalgamated videos. The same group mobilized youth concerns and presented them to all candidates ahead of the provincial election in June. With 19 candidates running for mayor, deputy mayor, and councillor positions the organizers hope that video responses will make it easier for voters to engage with and hear directly from the candidates.

"Video is a powerful medium" said Dylan Chauvin-Smith, an Owen Sound based video producer, part-time barista and member of the organizing team. "We collected thousands of views on the recordings from the June all-candidates meeting which means that many more people engaged with that material than attended in-person events. Democracy requires accessible information and in 2018 that means candidates' perspectives need to be available online".

The organizers will begin by collecting questions from youth living, working, and going to school in Owen Sound by email to [email protected] and through an online survey until September 23. Six questions will be chosen from the submissions and posed to each candidate. Every candidate will have the opportunity to film a response and those responses will be edited together. Constituents will be able to watch the responses sorted by question or by candidate. The Youth Ask team hope to have the videos edited and posted online by Thanksgiving.

"Youth voices are essential to political discussions, especially at the municipal level," co-organizer Jon Farmer said. "Owen Sound proudly claims to be 'where you want to live' and we see that as an aspirational statement. Many millenials have chosen to stay in, return, or move to this area and if our municipal government isn't informed by youth perspectives then the decisions they make can't reflect the full diversity of perspectives, visions, and values that our community holds. If we want to build a city that supports young people, engages them, and inspires them to live and grow old here, then we need to listen to them and involve them in the community and local government at every opportunity".

The Youth Ask organizers are accepting question submissions from people under the age of 29 who live, work, and go to school in Owen Sound. Interested youth can submit questions in writing or by video to [email protected] or through the Facebook page: Youth Ask Grey Bruce. Questions should be directed generally as all candidates will respond to each. The organizers will also share links to information about online and telephone voting to help raise awareness about the changes in process for this election.

source: media release, Youth Ask

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