Mayor for the Day Challenge winners share their ideas
Thursday, May 30, 2013 11:33 am
Two Airdrie students are turning heads at City Hall.
During council May 21, both Ayden Makarus and Dancia MacDonald were announced as winners of the recent Mayor for the Day Challenge.
“To everyone (who competed), it was exceptional,” said Mayor Peter Brown before announcing the two names.
“I couldn’t find a flaw, they were terrific.”
MacDonald, a 15-year-old Bert Church High School student submitted a plan for curbside recycling. Makarus, a Grade 6, 11-year-old Ralph McCall student submitted an idea to build a overpass near Yankee Valley Boulevard between Main Street and Coopers Crossing Gate.
Makarus was one of 25 students who submitted an idea to improve the City at the middle school level; MacDonald was one of five high school students.
The challenge, first launched in 2012, offers youngsters the opportunity to submit ideas on projects or initiatives they feel would improve the community, explained Robbie White, with the social planning department of the City who presented to council.
After submitting an idea, the topfive finalists at both high school and middle school level, were chosen the Hyjinx Youth Council, a group of teens between the ages of 13 to 18, who meet weekly to discuss ways to empower youth in the City. Those students had to come in and give a brief presentation and answer questions presented by the mayor and members of the Hyjinx Youth Council.
“It’s really exciting,” said a smiling Makarus when asked what he thought about winning.
He said he came up with his idea when he was on his way to a hockey game and was stopped at the railway crossing and realized he would be late.
“The firehall is on the other side (of the tracks) and if there’s an emergency and they can’t get across because there’s a train, they will also have to wait,” explained Makarus of why he felt an overpass would be a good idea in that area.
He put together a poster board full of visuals and information on where and why he felt there should be the overpass and readied for his interview.
“It was a little nerve-wracking but it ended up being a good presentation, I think,” he said.
He said he was asked to think of an idea as part of a class project and the teacher suggested students also submit their idea to the Mayor for a Day Challenge.
Makarus will spend a day with the mayor but he will also have the opportunity to meet with staff in the relevant departments to learn more about the work that they do and discuss the feasibility of his idea.
“We want to educate young people and give them the reality of the process,” said White of how to turn an idea into reality and what stages of planning and vetting something has to go through before coming to council for approval.
Currently, Makarus is sorting out his availability to meet with the mayor and City staff, as is MacDonald.
Her idea is to offer a compost bin and recycling bin to every household in Airdrie. She said it would reduce the amount of garbage people collect to about a quarter bag a week. Currently, Airdrie has garbage pick-up once a week where people are allowed to put out two bags of garbage.
“We have a recycling depot but it doesn’t fit the population,” she said. “And people don’t want to drive there to recycle.”
She said she came up with the idea from her past experience living in Nova Scotia.
“There you have to have clear garbage bag so they (collectors) can see if you’re throwing something out that could be recycled,” she explained.
She also said there is a recycling and compost bin for each home.
Because the City just started a pilot project in Waterstone and The Canals for collecting compost, MacDonald said she was nervous she wouldn’t get chosen.
“Once I got chosen, I realized it’s because it’s something we need,” she said, adding that she is looking forward to meeting with staff and discussing the idea further.
The two students won an iPad mini and get the chance to chair an upcoming council meeting at a yet to be determined date.
Similar to last year, a dinner will be held soon for the top-10 finalists.
They will have the opportunity to present their ideas to a group of peers during a supper planned with councillors.