Connecting Lake Simcoe's Community

July 28, 2021 — A new survey aims to give youth a say in the future of Simcoe County

Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition (SCGC) and Simcoe County Environmental Youth Alliance (SCEYA) are excited to announce the Youth Vision of Simcoe County Survey.

Collaboration between SCGC and SCEYA has produced a survey to gather youth input about the future of the region that they want to see.  The alliance is encouraging Simcoe County, Barrie and Orillia youths 25 and under to have their say about the communities they want. The survey was released Monday, the 26th and will be open until the end of the summer.

SCGC’s Youth Engagement Lead, Kelly Gingrich says the goal of this survey is to amplify youth voices, and understand their priorities, barriers and visions for the future. 

“Youth face many barriers to participation in their community and in local politics. They are often not taken seriously, and processes are often inaccessible and unwelcoming. With the results of this survey, we hope to bring more youth voices into local decision-making and planning.”

Another youth-led organization, the Sustainable Orillia Youth Council (SOYC) has welcomed this project, stating that “the Sustainable Orillia Youth Council thinks it is very important that youth voices are heard while planning the future of the county - this survey is an amazing way to give youth an opportunity to describe their vision for the future of Simcoe County and make their opinions heard!”. 

The timing of the survey is due to Simcoe County, Orillia and Barrie undergoing community planning that will forecast out until 2051 through Municipal Comprehensive Reviews (MCR).  During the process, municipalities can adjust policies to protect farmland, address climate change, stop sprawl and focus on housing types that meet the needs of the communities.  This projection to 2051 also coincides with the 2050 climate targets of net zero carbon emissions.

Organizers hope that the results of the survey, which will be shared with decision makers and set the tone for other youth visioning projects, will force local politicians to fully take youth voices and their ambitions for the future into account when making these long lasting decisions.

“Youth are leading the movement for climate justice and are holding their representatives accountable in their responsibility to ensure a safe future for their constituents. The MCR will decide how our communities are designed, including whether or not we meet those climate targets. These decisions will build the communities that today’s youth will be living in for the rest of their lives; their voices must be given equal weight if the MCR is to follow a responsible and relevant planning process.”

The survey can be completed and shared at www.simcoecountygreenbelt.ca/youth-survey.  The alliance will also be especially encouraging the participation of BIPOC youth and other marginalized youth who are often excluded from decision-making.

The Simcoe County Environmental Youth Alliance is a youth-led organization from across Simcoe County, fighting for climate justice. @sceyalliance

The Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition is a diverse coalition of 40 organizations from across Simcoe County and the province calling on local and provincial leaders to better protect our water resources, green spaces and farmland through smart growth and sustainable policies including expansion of the Greenbelt into Simcoe County.  This summer SCGC has focused its programming on empowering local youth voices in environmental and social issues.  www.simcoecountygreenbelt.ca  

Photo courtesy of Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition

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