Metro Morning

Make decisions with millennials in mind, researcher urges Toronto

Millennials need a greater voice at city council if Toronto is going to keep its young people, says a researcher who believes local politicians sometimes choose "old over young."

Researcher says city choosing 'old over young' with policies that favour homeowners

Vasiliki Bednar says millennials are frustrated about the high cost of housing and precarious employment in Toronto. (CBC)

Millennials need a greater voice at city council if Toronto is going to keep young people living in the city, according to a researcher who says local politicians sometimes choose "old over young."

"If you are a boomer in the city, I totally get how the city is great," Vasiliki Bednar, associate director of the cities program at the University of Toronto's Martin Prosperity Institute, told CBC Radio's Metro Morning.

But Bednar said the same is not true for millennials,

"There's a whole kind of gap in terms of that different life stage that doesn't have a great voice represented at city hall and we're not part of policymaking," she said.

Surging house prices, ageing transit, stagnant employment prospects, some of the things millennials have to contend with. Matt Galloway spoke with Vass Bednar. She is the Associate Director of the Cities research program at the Martin Prosperity Institute. 6:57

Bednar said millennials are frustrated about the high cost of housing and and precarious employment in Toronto. She noted rising real estate prices could help to drive millennials out of the city and moving to the suburbs may not always be an option.

"We are a world-class city. And it's not really historically new that houses in an urban centre are expensive. But we no longer have the option ... of moving to the suburbs as a housing policy because suburbs housing prices are also really escalating."

Millennial issues

City council needs to make political decisions with younger people in mind and Bednar said that means thinking more about the impact of decisions on renters, transit users, people who use Uber and car2Go, "technology that we use to get around the city."

She said an example of the city thinking of home owners instead of renters is the decision not to issue a permit that would allow Car2Go to park on residential streets beyond the hourly limits. It means overnight street parking is reserved for those with houses, not renters who might not own their own cars.

An encouraging sign, however, is the trip by Mayor John Tory to San Francisco in early April. She said the lessons learned there need to be applied to Toronto.

She acknowledged the next generation will have to push for their demands. which could include such measures as congestion taxes and road tolls.

Bednar is speaking today at a one-day conference in Toronto entitled the Millennial Leadership Summit.

It will look at millennials in the workplace, myths and realities surrounding this generation, the precariousness of work for many young people and how young adults can develop leadership skills and potential.

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