For most grade 8 kids standing in front of City Council to discuss important topics, such as lack of adequate ‘No Smoking’ signs would be an intimidating feat, for Patricia Feng and Kamryn Smith, it’s just part of their lives on Cold Lake Youth Council. The 13 year old girls says when you’re in front of Council the nerves will present themselves, but you just have to focus on your goal.
It’s fun and it allows you to step up and take action in your own community. It allow you to grow as a person. – Patricia Feng Deputy Mayor Cold Lake Youth Council
“You’re standing in front of very important people, but after a while, you get comfortable and it’s okay, because you’re just making a presentation,” says Feng, who serves as one of the Deputy Mayors of the Cold Lake Youth Council. Neither of the young ladies had ever presented in front of Council before, but they were successful. The ‘just a presentation’ Feng and Smith held for Council is going to change a lot of people’s lives. The girls displayed to Council in late May there wasn’t enough ‘No Smoking’ signs in recreational areas; an oversight that was against the City’s Bylaws.
“The Youth Council deserves all the credit on this one,” says Mayor of Cold Lake, Craig Copeland, “they recognized signage wasn’t up to standards, so Council supported investing money into it.” Mayor Copeland says the Youth Council brings an important perspective to the City, one that may go unnoticed without them. “It was a good catch by the youth, as usual. They see things differently.”
According to June 14th, 2016 Council Package
The City of Cold Lake has more than 40 sports fields and parks across the city. The Youth Council recommended there was a need for signage in such areas due to:
- the young generation is feeling negatively affected by the influence of smoking
- the Bylaw prohibits smoking in these areas and should be enforced
- the City of Cold Lake is a tourist attraction and should be an appealing destination
- healthy living should be promoted within the city
- the city should be a leader in deciding proactive health initiatives
The Youth Council also recommended that the signage include:
- a picture with word stating ‘No Smoking’
- the applicable laws as well as possible fines
- the distance away from the public area
When placing ‘no smoking’ signage within these spaces, highly visible locations including entries should be considered. In most cases the signage can be installed on an existing sign, post, fence or bench. There will be some locations that require a post being installed.
*Information provided from the City of Cold Lake
On Tuesday, May 14th, City Council voted to add an additional 75 signs. This includes 23 in Cold Lake South, 34 in the North, and 18 on 4 Wing. “It felt good that we were able to make a change,” Feng says the issue was brought to Youth Council by an adolescent member of the community. The quoted cost of these signs is under $3,000. According to June 14th Council Package, an additional $2,000 should be budgeted for the installation of the signs. Subject to the City supporting this endeavour, further discussion will need to occur on parks specifically owned by the Department of National Defense (18) as this City would need to review jurisdictional issues.
We ready to step up and we’re ready to advocate for the youth. – Patricia Feng Deputy Mayor Cold Lake Youth Council
Both Feng and Smith’s older siblings are on the Youth Council and passed the love of governance onto the pair. Feng explains how her sister’s involvement drove her to join, “when she first got involved, she would talk about what this was. It peeked my interest, so I got involved.” Smith’s story is similar whose older brother is on Youth Council. “I just want to change what’s wrong in our community,” says Smith.
Youth Council is heading into summer break for July and August and will reconvene in September. Both Feng and Smith plan on continuing their roles on Youth Council. If you’re a student who would like to be involved on the Cold Lake Youth Council, you may call the FCSS at 780-594-4494, ask for program adviser, Leanne.