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Sayward’s 18-year-old councillor hopes to inspire other young people to become politically-involved

Kohen Gilkin received highest number of votes in Sayward
Sayward councillor Kohen Gilkin was elected at age 18. Photo courtesy Kohen Gilkin

One of Sayward’s newest councillors — who is only 18 years old — hopes other young people see him and get inspired to be more politically involved.

Gilkin has been interested in politics for the last four years, having watched proceedings in both the provincial legislature and the federal House of Commons.

“I look at the housing crisis, I look at the drug overdose crisis. I look at all of these things that apply to me because I’m now coming out of my childhood and I’m getting into what people call … the ‘real world’ where we’re paying taxes,” he said. “We have to afford down payments. We have to afford all of these different things and I can’t afford to buy a house. I can’t afford to the drive around in a nice truck.

“Back nine or 10 years ago, you could afford to do some things. I look forward to the future for when I have kids, and how are they supposed to afford gas, groceries, homes?”

He saw this municipal election as his chance to get his foot in the door and start his political career.

“I am looking at future nomination for candidacy in our riding … but obviously that’s that years away and I just want to get my feet wet in municipal politics at the moment, for sure.”

For now, Gilkin wants to focus on things closer to home. Those are mainly infrastructure issues like aging water mains, as well as taking advantage of Sayward’s beautiful waterfront.

“I’ve been a lot of places and Sayward kind of hits the spot for a gorgeous oceanfront. I want to see some more activity down there. I mean, there’s an unreal spot, you could have vendors down there, you (could) have (a) fish market, you could have food trucks,” he said. “Obviously, we need to lay down the procedure for that and get things rolling down there.”

Setting aside local issues, Gilkin hopes that other young people see him in an elected position and get inspired to get more politically active.

“Everybody thinks that no young people are in politics and I want to change that. I want to bring younger minds. I want to bring more transparency into government,” he said. “I believe that it’s our time to start stepping in start getting into these roles.

“People need to stay involved so that they can hold us accountable because we are elected officials. We’re there to do a job where we’re elected to voice concerns of the people and make collective decisions on behalf of the people,” he said. “If the public falls short of that… that’s how you lose transparency… It doesn’t matter who you are. You need to be involved you need to go to meetings, get engaged in conversation.”

RELATED: Sayward election results now available

Marc Kitteringham

About the Author: Marc Kitteringham

I joined Campbell River Mirror in early 2020, writing about the environment, housing, local government and more.
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