Is it Time for Our Youth to Start Guiding Our City into the Future? Letter to the Editor from Mike Bedard – July 26, 2011

Our youthful populace needs a better platform and wider range of representatives to report to Council.  In 2004, the City of Cornwall endorsed the CYAC/ COCOJECO and stated that “The city recognized that its greatest resources lie with its youth.”  However, the need to reorganize and provide the city’s youth with an organization that can focus on ensuring our community and council is clearly aware of what the needs of a 16 to 30 year old and what currently entices them to move or stay in a community would prove extremely beneficial to Council and Cornwall’s Economic Development Department.
The structure of our Cornwall Youth Advisory Committee is seriously flawed and does not allow for an adequate platform for our youth to work directly with council and help promote the city to other youth due to its lack of proper representation.
As of July the Cornwall Youth Advisory Committee is structured to consist of eight students attending school in the City of Cornwall, between the ages of 13 and 19 and three professionals from the stakeholders’ community; along with one councillor from the City of Cornwall.
The representation of those youth 19 – 30 in Post-Secondary Programs, in the Working World and Living in Our Community has not been seriously considered during recent discussions and the need to bring this issue to light is now.
The Current Mandate: The Cornwall Youth Advisory Committee / Comité Consultatif Jeunesse Cornwall, serves the population of Cornwall by empowering youth to make a difference in the lives of others.  In working together with City Councillors, and through fostering partnerships with the Cornwall Community Police Service and with youth organizations, the Committee is dedicated to providing youth with a forum to contribute to the development of solutions to make Cornwall a youth friendly community.
A NEW Committee Structure should include the inception of a Board Representing Secondary School Students, Post-Secondary School Students, Lay Members (between the ages of 16 to 30 years old), a member of the Cornwall Community Police Force and a Cornwall City Councillors.
A NEW Mandate should be developed and include measures to attract and retain youth to Cornwall.  The Committee should operate as a non-profit organization and include proven successful methods used by “Choose Cornwall”, “Team Cornwall” and “Cornwall and Area Chamber of Commerce”.  Also, It was found that many business people seemed to be put off or daunted by the prospect of going to traditional networking events; and, as networking and word of mouth is so important for business in Cornwall it was decided that there was a need to create an environment where young people, or those new to business, could learn to network in a more relaxed environment with like minded people.The recommendation would be to form a new organization that would impliment the following (but not limited to):

  1. Replace the currently outdated CYAC with a new Board of Directors and provide Council and our Community with a clearer and more accurate picture of our youth’s current needs and trends.
  2. Provide the Cornwall Community Police Force with an annual report to how it cn help make Cornwall more Youth Friendly.
  3. Provide NEW Social Networking Events for Young People, those NEW to Businesses and other like minded people.
  4. Provide an Awards Ceremony that will highlight our youth’s accomplishments in Business, Academics, Sports, Volunteerism, Arts and Culture, etc
  5. Provide NEW Events such as determined by the Board with the encouragement of hosting several charity and community events.
  6. Recommend NEW Post-Secondary Programs to our Post-Secondary Institutions.
  7. Promote our City and Successful Youth and Citizens to our Secondary School Students BEFORE they leave Cornwall.
  8. Provide Real Estate and Housing information to those interested in moving to Cornwall; highlighting younger real estate agents and identifying “younger areas” of Cornwall.
  9. Create a Web-site that will include the following pages:
    1. EVENTS
    2. AWARDS
    4. JOB BANK
    5. CONTACT
    6. LINKS
I was the youngest candidate in the 2010 Municipal election and even though I was not elected I love my community and wish to continue improving and inspiring our community.  I have met and spoke with several members of the City of Cornwall; including councillors and the Mayor!  They were all very receptive to my idea but I realize they are all busy and the initial idea has grown, since its inception, and will continue to draw more interest once a web-site is initiated this January.  I believe that this initiative would prove to be a MAINSTAY in our community and would set us ahead of other cities!  I would hope to formally have the blessing of our Cornwall City Council to undertake this initiative that I am naming “The City of Cornwall’s Youth Retention Program”.  Our younger population NEED inspiration and who better to inspire them than their peers!  My goal is to see this organization realized and I am formally requesting the aid of local volunteers and businesses that would like to support such and initiative!
To all of those interested in volunteering or want to help create such an organization please contact me:
Mike Bedard
(Comments and opinions of Editorials, Letters to the Editor, and comments from readers are purely their own and don’t necessarily reflect those of the owners of this site, their staff, or sponsors.)
Pommier Jewellers


  1. Good luck with that Mike but it seems to me that nothing has changed in Cornwall since I left in 1975 to work in Toronto. On moving back to the area I found that there is still nothing for high school and college students to look forward to except moving out of Cornwall if they are brave enough. The prevailing attitude of the established cliques and municipal government is neophobia in business and distrust for anyone from outside of Cornwall.

    I hope you can start to change this situation but it takes a lot of energy to break the inertia of complacency. Keep up the pressure and don’t let the trolls drag you down.

  2. There may be only one worthwhile endeavor in this city… become part of the clique and enjoy its privileges.

  3. Hi Everyone,

    I have had some great response to this initiative and I would like to answer some questions publicly:

    1) Do you think the current youth advisory committee should be completely replace?

    Answer: Yes, but not until 2014 or until Council sees fit to replace the current model with our new proposed plan. The new organization must be formed and fully operational before considering replacing the current model. Also, there is already a committee in place and it would be unfair to those who have committed themsleves until 2014. The merger would ideally take place in 2014 unless some unforeseen circumstances arise and if the new organization has established itself as the communities platform for our youth.

    2) Why do you say the current structure is seriously flawed?

    Answer: It does not allow for any students over the age of 19 years old (No Post-Secondary Graduates); except for 3 stakeholders which is NOT enough! It includes 8 High School Students! A proper structure would more accurately represent all demographics between the ages of 16 – 30 years old for example:

    4 – Students in Elementary / High School, 4 – Students enrolled in Post Secondary programs, 4 – Stakeholders currently living or employed in the city of Cornwall between the ages of 16 – 30 years old (preferably in the workforce), 1 – member of the Police Force and 1 – member of Council.

    The exact number of represantitives aren’t as important as which people are on the committee! Although a it is possible for a 18 or 19 year old to be in College or University the age limit should be increased and the inclusion of more youth in the Cornwall’s Workforce to be added so that they have a platform to discuss their concerns and interests!

    3) Were did you get this idea?

    Answer: When running for City Council in 2010 it was EXTREMELY inspiring to see how many people wanted to see their children or family move back to Cornwall! It was even more INSPIRING to see how many people felt genuinely happy to see younger people involved, excited and wanting to improve their community! KUDOS to the “Cornwall Living Magazine” for focusing on the NEXT GENERATION and I believe this purposed organization will continue this trend.

    No City that I have seen is focusing on their Youth and let’s face it Cornwall’s BIGGEST Export is our Youth! Let’s get ahead of the pack and start leading the way by creating something NEW, INSPIRATIONAL and POSITIVE!

    Final Note: ” If a leader fails to recognize that change is needed than the leader must be changed!” but then again “Ignorance is Bliss!” and “The idealogy from some people that change is never needed is becasue they arre Narrow Minded, they are Shameles, they are Bullies, they are full of Ignorant Rage and this is very Satisfying to Stupid People!”

    Thank You,
    Mike Bedard

  4. Before the 2010 Municipal Election i had expressed my interest in forming a Youth Advisory Committee for our City Council. After the election i approached a few City Council members to tell them of my plan. This is when i found out the Committee would only consist of 13 to 19 year olds. This is great…but what about the rest of the youth in town? I am 23 and VERY much involved and interested in the political process. Along with many other 20 to 29 year olds. But i’m gonna going to start a Young Adults advisory committee. It would be pretty redundant. I think a YAC of 13 to 29 year olds would bring so much more to the table. How can we change this?

  5. Author

    Hi Carilyne, I think if enough people “Demand” something there’s a better possibility of change. You’ve been around politics enough now to have a grasp of how politicians react….

  6. Mike, is there no way that the current constitution for the youth advisory committee to be amended? I mean i know it would have to be the current committee members that would do so but we can do some lobbying. There has to be a way this can be changed before 2014.

  7. Hi Carilyne,

    We will be meeting to form a new committee next month and with the right structure and lobbying we can create something worth being proud! I have met with the Mayor and spoke to several councillors already! I will be meeting with Maurice Dupelle (the councillor on the current YAC) this week to get some imput about what he would like to see us accomplish and get him involved if possible!

    The current committee structure could be changed but it needs more community involvement to make it successful and worth doing…… Could you imagine a committte with just 8 – 40 year olds doing what Team Cornwall does? No, it needs more people to capitalize on its true potential!

    Contact Me, Carilyne so that we can get you involved in the process and you can learn a lot from several people on the committee who are in politics and have have just ran or are running again!

    Thank You,
    Mike Bedard

  8. Hello Carilyne,

    I think your interest in the Youth Advisory Committee is commendable, and I wish you and others the best in lobbying to reform that committee. I would suggest emailing Bob Kilger and Maurice Dupelle. However in the meantime, someone with your skill set might be well suited as a lay person on another one of the City Committee`s. I am not sure if there are any vacancies right now, the best time to apply would have been November of 2010, and now November of 2014, but scroll down to the bottom of this page for more information on how to apply. – Sometimes there are openings due to unforeseen circumstances. I am on a few of the City committees, and I enjoy the work, and I think you might too. I hope you find this information useful.

    Best Regards,
    -Jason Setnyk

  9. Can this program qualify for the volunteer hours needed for today’s high school diploma? You may want to advertise opening at the schools.

    Some shy people may want to get involved, will there be smaller groups for discussions that help younger and older contribute?

    Best of luck

  10. Hi Everyone,

    Carilyne/Jason: The current model for the Youth Advisory Committee was revised in June and application to serve for four years were excepted until July 8th, 2011. Normally the committee’s are formed in November but in this case it was restructured to allow for students to stay on for Four years instead of One year! I do believe their are open positions for students but nothing for the lay members; although to get your name to Manon Poirier would be a good idea, here is a link directly to the Youth Advisory Committtee page on the City of Corwnall’s web-site and the Lay Appointments (Manon Poirier) contact information:

    “Lay Appointments”

    Office of the Deputy Clerk
    P.O. Box 877
    360 Pitt Street
    Cornwall, Ontario K6H 5T9

    613-930-2787 ext 2316
    613-933-1860 (fax)

    Eric: We will meet with the School Board/s to discuss co-op placement and program development on a regular basis, once established, but the goal at this point is to establish a clear identy along with timelined objectives.

    Anyone can attend our planned board meetings that will have our minutes and agenda posted on-line along with an option to e-mail letters or concerns to the administrator who will then hand a copy of every message to each board member prior to our meetings. The board will then reply and answer all questions sent via e-mail during its meetings. Also, this NEW organization will host many NEW social events to allow for like minded people to network in a more relaxed environment! All ages are welcome!

    Thank You,
    Mike Bedard

  11. Let the youth guide the city… it can’t be any worst than the past 50 years. Just make sure our youth are university educated and know what they are doing… most, even the well intentioned ones… really need to leave this city and see how a real city with a growing economy and a variety of markets operates. We need SMART people who can EXECUTE GREAT IDEAS…

  12. Author

    Jason a University degree doesn’t mean you’re smart. It doesn’t mean you’re not, but we live in a world that many times partitions people based on pieces of paper instead of merit.

  13. A university degree is a sign of accomplishment, not capability.

  14. Depends on the university, the field(s) studied, and the person who studied.

  15. Some of the smartest people I work with only have a high school degree because they didn’t need it in their time. I have employed some very highly educated people but they were “Over Schooled and Under Worked!” if that makes sense to everyone! They had gone to school for a long time but hadn’t been taught that what actually makes you successful and helps you after school is over is work ethic and adaptibiliy! They thought that they had learned everything but in reality they were just at the tip of the iceberg!

    We need more University Graduates to work and live in Corwnall! Our biggest export is our youth and we need to attract all graduates and not just a select few for our city to grow into a more well-rounded society!

    Thank You,
    Mike Bedard

  16. The real education happens once you leave school and enter the work force….unless you enter politics, then you think you know everything already.

  17. Hi Reg,

    Funny but somewhat true comment: “The real education happens once you leave school and enter the work force….unless you enter politics, then you think you know everything already.”

    Have you noticed that old school politicians sound like gangsters “Your going to do what I say or else!”. I think what’s happening to Obama, if anything, is shedding some light on how the political system has flaws and it takes too long to make changes! But the main problem in my opinion is watching people be forced to vote for something they don’t beleive in just to support their party!

    A new mind set needs to implimented that has worked for hundreds of years in the business community! The best ideas should prevail! Why can’t I like or support a Liberal or NDP idea if I am a Conservative! A better idea is a better idea! Who cares who thought of it? I don’t and I beleive neither do you! So why do politicians get hung up on this mentality of ensuring other parties ideas dont get passed with out there approval “Gangster like mentality!”. Its like you have to see the Godfather and get his approval and give him something in return to get a bill passed!

    I think candidates should be re-elected on how they have voted on issues and hopefuls based on how they would vote as opposed to the incumbent! This way here the communities total interested can be taken care of instead just a segmented groups!

  18. Here is the real root challenge. Forget about attracting university graduates or doing anything until…

    ….we ( the city) develops a long-term vision for the future. I’m talking about a 20 year vision. This is what Kanata did, and all decisions were that were made afterwards were based on whether or not it fit into their ultimate long-term vision.

    Doesn’t this make much more sense.

    Cornwall… doesn’t have such a plan. Many around our council are still confused as to whether we want to attract youth or become a retirement city… or both. Without a clear objective, there is no way any goal or vision will ever be realized.

    Look.. if we want to become a booming destination for retirees… than let’s start building facilities and developing businesses that retirees want. If we want to become a plan for our youth, young entrepreneurs to develop and innovate, let’s start allocating our resources to fund small-business incubators…let’s partner with the college to develop programs that focus on entrepreneurship, technology, green industry… etc.

    If we want to become a place where people can retire… than the decision we make, the resources we allot will be much different than if we want to create a city that attracts people with degrees and develops businesses that innovate and export their innovations to the world ( ex: green energy industry), thus creating much more wealth and opportunity and in turn attracts more qualified people.

    Even urban planning decisions need to be based on a long-term ( 20 years) vison.. I see stores popping up all over the place.. one little mini mall here… another little mini mall there… it is pure chaos. I can’t blame our urban planners… after all, they don’t have a long-term vision to base their decisions on; therefore what we get is this mishmash of commercial zones with no real centralization or ultimate goal.

    This is the root cause of why Cornwall hasn’t grown in 50 years ( mind you… and those who know history will tell you that it hasn’t always been this way, Cornwall was a booming town and was set to become a metropolitan…but due to poor decisions… like a few mayors who at the time controlled the labor force… rejected new industry from coming in order to maintain the lower wages they paid their employees. God forbid a new industry establish themselves that would have brought with it better pay and better opportunity)

    So, before we go and create a youth committee or any committee for that matter… why don’t we form a committee whose goal is to propose a 20 year vision for the city…then and only then can we create other associations or committee to facilitate the implementation of this vision…anything else is futile. Anything else just doesn’t make sense to me.

    What are your thoughts?

  19. Hi Jason,

    I apologize for not responding sooner but I had emergency surgery yeterday and I just returned from the hospital today. In case anyone was wondering I had an incarcerated hernia; not fun!

    The 20 year plan that you are refering to is more commonly refered to as a “Strategic Plan”.

    Here is part of wikipedias definition of “Strategic Planning”:

    Strategic planning is the formal consideration of an organization’s future course. All strategic planning deals with at least one of three key questions:

    1.”What do we do?”
    2.”For whom do we do it?”
    3.”How do we excel?”

    The organization in this case would be the City of Cornwall. We actually had a really good strategic plan produced by a consulting firm in 2006.

    Here is a link to it:

    I think once read the strategic plan you will come to the realization that is actually a really good plan and hence you probably agree with the following statement:

    “We don’t need NEW ideas, more than we need BETTER implimentation of the ideas we ALREADY have!”

    I am trying to impliment some of my platform ideas,, even though I was not elected and hopefully you respect the fact that the idea is worth doing moreso than whether we need to attract retirees!

    A council is a team and some councillors must rely on other councillors expertise to be progress and if every councillor tried to do everything it would be counter pproductive. Focusing on attracting retirees would not be one of my strong suits but since I am a young entrepreneur not far removed from post-secondary education! I believe at this point in time I can help impliment this program becasue I am very passionate about it and it will no way bring negativity!

    Or we can sit here and do nothing and discuss what should be done by other people!

    Thank You,
    Mike Bedard

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