The Resort Municipality of Whistler holds an annual competition in celebration of Local Government Awareness Week.
The 2017 Local Government Awareness Week will take place May 21-27, in conjunction with National Public Works Week. Once again we will be holding a competition for all the grade 5 students in Whistler in who would like the opportunity to take part in a Student Council meeting in the role of Mayor, Council and staff. The competition opens on April 24 with the deadline for entry on May 5. The date of the Student Council meeting will be May 25 from 9 to 10 a.m. This year we will also be including two letters to Mayor and Council from grade 5 students who would like to bring an idea or recommendation to Mayor, Council and staff's attention.
Last year the students represented roles as Manager of Environmental Stewardship, Emergency Program Coordinator and Youth Services Librarian. They reported on topics regarding tree thinning for fire protection, an emergency reporting app and a digital book cover addition to the online book search for youth books. The digital book cover idea has actually been initiated at the Whistler Public Library.
In 2016, an annual Student Council Competition was established for all of Whistler's Grade 5 students. The competition is for students to win a role as Mayor, Councillor or municipal staff member in a Student Council meeting in the council chambers at Maury Young Arts Centre, to be watched by the public, other Grade 5 students, and the media. The council agenda is based on recommendations made by the students, and the decisions made by the Student Council are enacted.
In addition to taking part in the Student Council meeting, each of the winners receive a small prize, meet Whistler’s Mayor, Councillors and several municipal staff, and have their photo taken.
The Student Council meeting was inspired by a resolution passed by 2015 Mayor for the Day Abbey Mellor, who recommended a daytime council meeting for Whistler's Grade 5 students to learn about local government.
Local Government Awareness Week initiative is a partnership between UBCM, CivicInfo BC and the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development. The goal for the week is to generate awareness and educate the public about the roles and responsibilities of local government, and encourage the public to participate in local government processes.
2016 Student Council meeting
Ten Grade 5 students won the Student Council Contest to take part in a Student Council meeting on May 19, 2016.
During the meeting students discussed a council agenda inspired by the competition responses. The agenda included emergency preparedness for wildfires, increasing access to books for younger children and environmental issues around tree cutting in Whistler. Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, Whistler Councillors and municipal staff prepared the students. Other grade 5 students and the public sat in the audience. Watch the meeting.
The participants were:
- Mayor: Lauren Hamm (Spring Creek Community School)
- Councillor: Zen Moses (Whistler Waldorf School)
- Councillor: Aspen Gohlke (Whistler Waldorf School)
- Councillor: Felix Shorter (Spring Creek Community School)
- Councillor: Jacob Coleman (Whistler Waldorf School)
- Councillor: Lochlan Harvey (Myrtle Philip Community School)
- Councillor: Reese Palmer (Spring Creek Community School)
- Manager of Environmental Stewardship: Linus Kloepfer (Whistler Waldorf School)
- Emergency Program Coordinator: Tatum Nash (Spring Creek Community School)
- Youth Services Librarian: Zakary Eade (Spring Creek Community School)
In preparation for the competition, municipal staff contacted each school in Whistler and made presentations about local government to Grade 5 classes at Myrtle Philip Community School, Spring Creek Community School and the Whistler Waldorf School.
The 2016 Student Council Contest was the first annual meeting, inspired by a request from 2015 Mayor for the Day Abbey Mellor, a student at Spring Creek Community School.
2015 Mayor for the Day
Abbey Mellor, a Grade 5 student at Spring Creek Community School, won Whistler's Mayor for the Day contest. The contest asked Grade 5 students in Whistler to submit a letter about what they would do if they were Mayor for the Day.
Abbey chose her sister Mallory to accompany her as Press Secretary for the day. As Mayor for the Day, Abbey spoke with Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden and CAO Mike Furey, visited departments in Municipal Hall to learn how Whistler's local government is run, attended Committee of the Whole and discussed proposals outlined in her winning letter, and declared Whistler Olympic Plaza's great lawn officially open for the summer.
Abbey made a public speech at the Council meeting about her day at Municipal Hall and had a resolution passed to have a daytime council meeting for Grade 5 Whistler students to learn about Whistler’s local government.
2014 Mayor for the Day
Kate Risso, a Grade 5 student at Myrtle Philip Community School, was Whistler's 2014 Mayor for the Day. Kate chose Siena Van Rosen to accompany her as Press Secretary for the day. Kate's winning submission focused on encouraging physical activity, enhancing Whistler's family friendly activities and creating more festivals and events.
Kate and Siena meet with municipal staff, Mayor and Council, participated in a Whistler Council meeting, and met customers at Meadow Park Sports Centre. Kate provided a mayor's report at the June 17 council meeting, passed a resolution to hold a Go Outside and Play Day at Whistler Olympic Plaza, and won a pizza lunch for her class.
In 2014, daycare-aged students of four years and under were also invited to participate by drawing a picture that shows their favourite municipal aspect of Whistler. Cianna Weetman won this part of the competition with a drawing of her favourite Whistler park. Cianna rode alongside the Mayor in the 2014 Whistler Canada Day parade.