A group of teenagers in Halifax have formed a committee to try and help steer municipal planning in the city's north end.
"Regardless of anything that goes on, I'm very proud of where I live," said Nikaya Paris, a member of the North End Community Action Committee.
"I would tell anyone from any sort of community anywhere in the world I love my community and I want to make a change."
'Sometimes I feel like I don't belong there'
To do that, the 18-year-old and her group of about six teenagers have started discussions with the municipality's planning department.
"I have seen so much change and some of it was really good and I was happy," she said. "A lot of it, though, kind of made me question or made me upset and a lot of other people in my community as well."
She has lived in the north end her whole life and has big concerns about the new condominiums and restaurants springing up.
"I don't see any sort of reflection of my people, my ancestors or people of the same ethnicity or any much ethnicity other than Caucasians that work in those restaurants," said Paris, who is black.
"I've never eaten in them before.… It's just sometimes I feel like I don't belong there."
'A new plan doesn't change what's already been built'
Paris hopes to curb that by working with the municipality as it updates its municipal planning strategies and bylaws.
"The North End Community Action Committee, them coming to us with the energy and the interest and the desire to learn and the desire to share what they already know has been wonderful," said Jacob Ritchie, the urban design program manager for Halifax.
He said the Centre Plan under development is trying to protect the character of existing neighbourhoods, while making it easier for well-designed developments that suit an area to go up.
"A new plan doesn't change what's already been built, but we can make sure that in the future we're actually making sure that it's the appropriate place for growth."
Paris said after meeting with the municipality a few times she now feels like they have a good working relationship.
"It's nice to see that they can see where our real hearts lie, and how strongly we do care about our community," she said.
The municipality should have its new municipal planning strategy completed by the end of this year.