VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Baby Boomers look out — Millennials are making their voices heard.
The results of this past weekend’s civic elections show the generation isn’t as disengaged as it’s often portrayed.
Gavin Dew organized the recent Forum for Millennial Leadership, and says the election of Rob Vagramov in Port Moody and Brad West’s win in Port Coquitlam show Millennials aren’t going to sit on the sidelines.
“I think there’s been big growth in terms of a number of Millennials getting elected. We did a bunch of research in order to identify just how many people were running, and we found that there were actually 100 candidates under 40 running in municipal elections in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. To see 31 elected out of those is a pretty strong number.”
That, he says, constitutes a significant increase from previous numbers; in Metro Vancouver, there were previously 12 people under 40 “out of 155 council seats, and now there are 26,” he explains.
The growth is not the same in the Fraser Valley, where there were six Millennials elected previously, and now only five Dew points out.
Dew believes younger people are beginning to realize municipal governments actually have a huge impact on their daily lives.
“We conducted some polling where we found that people between 18 and 34 years old thought that city council was now the level of government that affects their day-to-day lives the most.”
However, Dew admits there’s no way to know for sure if people from that age bracket actually voted on Saturday — we can just mainly see the success of those who ran for office.
Electing Millennials is one thing, but Dew says it’s also important to see a diversity represented within those elected from that generation.
“I think it’s great to see the number of young people elected, but we need to see diversity as well. In some jurisdictions in the Lower Mainland, we actually went backward in that regard.”
He says it’s obvious that young voters want to see younger people represented in government, but adds there’s also an appetite to ensure “that there is diverse representation on council as well.”
Despite the progress seen in this year’s municipal elections, Dew says there’s still a lot of work to do.
“We’re still no where near proportional representation, and we’re still no where near the numbers that residents of all ages say they would like to see.”
-With files from John Ackermann