Youth share views on town’s future

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Youth councillors relished the opportunity to share their thoughts on growth in Gore and the Ready for Growth project.

Ready for Growth was created after a summit held in Gore in November invited about 100 people from across the community to talk about opportunities in the area.

Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks said Ready for Growth was focused on giving substance to the ideas raised at the summit.

He said he had been concerned for some time about what he thought was the biggest challenge facing Gore.

“It’s not about funding water supply, or roads, or anything like that. – it’s about demographics.”

Mr Hicks said the community was rapidly getting older and there were now more people over the age of 50 than under 50.

“At the moment, most of those people are still very active in the community but probably 10 or 12 years down the track they’re not going to be, and that’s when we start to see the effect of the demographics.”

Mr Hicks said the youth council offered the voice of the district’s young people.

About 18 youth councillors took part in the discussion, arranged by youth council co-ordinator Eleanor Ranstead and Gore District Council economic development co-ordinator Ceri Macleod.

Ready for Growth is led by Mrs Macleod, who said the youth councillors gave slightly different insight.

“We had a useful, engaged, vibrant and enthusiastic discussion from these bright young people who were very keen to share their thoughts and had great ideas.”

Youth councillor Laura Heads (14) said it was good for the youth council to be included because young people were the future of the Gore District.

“It was nice that they got our opinions on what we thought could make it even better than what it is now.”

Fellow youth councillor vice-chairwoman Emily Chamberlain (15) also enjoyed the opportunity.

“Listening to their plans for Gore was really great and made us think about why we want to move away and why we should stay and support our community,” she said.

Mrs Macleod said it was clear the youth councillors were invested in the community and what it offered them in the future.

“We’re talking about increasing our population by 1500 people by 2030. By 2030, children in high school today will be our families of the future, so we needed to hear what their perspective was.

“If they are representative of our future population, I think we’re in safe hands.”