Voters can bring about a generational shift to Saanich council, at least that’s the hope of the youngest candidate in next month’s municipal byelection.
Ned Taylor, 18, says an injection of youth is exactly what’s needed on Saanich council.
“I think a young voice could bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to the table, for sure,” said Taylor, who graduated from Reynolds secondary in June.
Saanich voters will be facing a crowded ballot as seven candidates have now announced their intentions to seek a spot on council in the Sept. 23 byelection. Taylor joins Rob Wickson, Michael Geoghegan, Shawn Newby, Natalie Chambers, Rebecca Mersereau and Karen Harper as candidates who have declared in the byelection to fill the vacancy created by the death of Coun. Vic Derman in March.
Taylor, who has already established a website for his campaign at www.votened.org, has developed a platform based on people-centred decision-making, environmental stewardship, creating a thriving community and engaging our youth.
“I will definitely try and really move us forward on our environmental work and try and lead the fight against climate change,” he said, adding with Derman’s loss “I think an environmentalist filling that seat is exactly what’s needed.”
The lifelong Saanichite says too many residents are being left out of decisions affecting their neighbourhood.
“I’ve heard too many stories of people feeling ignored. Whether it’s Saanich pushing through a project without public discussion, or councillors lacking responsiveness to emails and letters, it’s not OK. I want to create an inclusive city council, where working together as a community is our foundation for moving forward.”
Some of Taylor’s other ideas include creating a searchable database for council voting records on the district website, scheduling some council meetings on weekends to make them more accessible, banning single-use plastic bags and water bottles, a foreign buyers tax on Saanich real estate, and allowing skateboarders and longboarders to use bike lanes.
Taylor became interested in politics after starting a petition campaign to ban the cages used for egg-laying hens, gaining over 33,000 signatures.
“Since that I’ve been really inspired to start a movement and bring my ideas forward to make a difference for the better.”
And Taylor has already made some powerful political allies. His petition will be presented to the B.C. Legislature by Green Party leader Andrew Weaver and has drawn the support of Saanich South MLA Lana Popham. A similar petition will be introduced in Parliament by Victoria MP Murray Rankin.
Taylor says more should be done to engage youth in municipal politics, and he discounts any suggestions he lacks the experience necessary to serve on council.
“We need people at both ends of the spectrum – people who are young, people who are old, middle-aged, of all different walks of life. That’s how you can get real progression on council and that’s the kind of change I want to provide.”