Mayors for a day

Parksville students ‘run’ the city after essay contest win

Mayor Chris Burger stands with mayor-for-a-day Rebeka Thompson and Emma Deering.

Mayor Chris Burger stands with mayor-for-a-day Rebeka Thompson and Emma Deering.

Parksville council awarded Mayor for a Day honours to Rebeka Thompson and deputy mayor Emma Deering this week.

The students won the second annual essay contest by describing what they would do as mayor.

“I believe the key to why Parksville is a favourite …” Thompson wrote, “[is] the beautiful wildlife we have. That is why if I was the mayor I would organize a community beach and park cleanup that would hopefully become an annual event.”

The 17-year-old Ballenas Secondary student is currently taking Civic Studies 11 which she said helped her question what she could do to become a better citizen locally and globally.

She would like to bring students to city hall more often, writing that any interaction between youth and city hall would be valuable in creating more involved citizens.

As mayor she would take advantage of solar power on city buildings to reduce the ecological footprint but ends “on a lighter note,” suggesting the mayor needs to bring back ice cream trucks, “on the condition they sell low fat or organic ice cream preferably from a local business.”

During a tour of the expanded fire hall Wednesday, she said she is considering politics as a career and this was a good chance to get a better sense of what that involves.

The pair sat at the council table to help chair Monday night’s council meeting and read their essays to the full gallery.

Deering, a 13-year-old Springwood Middle School student, wrote that her key goals as mayor would include lobbying to lower ferry fees, developing some of the more wild green space into useable parks and installing more sidewalks, especially along key school routes like Despard Avenue.

On Thursday they toured city facilities including the works yard, reservoir and city hall to see how they operate on a typical day.

City communication officer Debbie Tardiff said the essays were passionate, honest and thoughtful and the concerns brought forward by the students were very similar to the issues faced by council.

The contest was part of provincial Youth Week which is an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions made by youth and youth groups in their communities. Check www.bcyouthweek.com for more.