An election promise to engage those who will have a say in the future direction of North Bay is off to a good start in the form of the Next Generation Task Force.

North Bay City Councillor Mike Anthony and fellow Councillor Scott Robertson both included aspects of such an endeavour in their respective election platforms and were recognized as the natural choices to lead the group.

According to Anthony, not much “leading,” is necessary with this crew of young, eager professionals and creative minds. He says he’s happy to facilitate the discussion at let the participants take charge.

“This is one of the most engaged group of people we’ve seen,” said Anthony. “They’ve grown up with more power in the palm of their hand than NORAD had during the Cold War.”

Robertson shared his thoughts on the meeting via social media, posting “this meeting was incredibly energizing. The group brainstormed ideas. They all love living here and believe we need to improve our local pride and sense of connection in order to promote youth retention.”

Challenges to secure housing and to bring people to the city were noted by the group, as was a need to bring modernization to North Bay, especially when it comes to community interaction and engagement.

“The idea is to get their input, short-term, long-term, no idea is off the table on what they think the City could do, should improve on, new ideas they think the City should consider,” clarifies Anthony.

Anthony says a group of 20 have expressed interest and consider themselves to be members of the task force. Due to scheduling conflicts, a dozen showed up and one called in from southern Ontario.

A common message from the group has emerged after just one meeting, according to Robertson. “They believe that youth retention and improved quality of place is the way to stimulate the economy.”

Anthony foresees a meeting in May with another in the fall before compiling a report to present to council. He says there was no shortage of ideas at this recent meeting and he has over 20 pages of notes to prove it.