Ideas to build a better Ottawa

Through an OYEC lens

Members of our Ottawa Youth Engagement Committee (OYEC) were recently welcomed by the City Building Summit 2023: Build Up Ottawa, organized by the Ottawa Board of Trade and Ottawa Business Journal.  

Two of the OYEC leaders present at the event, María Paula Choque and Daniel Bersyniow, enjoyed how the summit brought together a diverse group of professionals, experts, and community leaders in thought-provoking panel discussions.

Specifically, they were impressed with the keynote speech by Mrs. Mary Rowe, who emphasized the importance of engaging young people in city planning and decision-making, and the panel discussion on affordable housing. 

“Participating in the City Building Summit … was an incredible and transformative experience,” María said. It was empowering to witness strong and successful women as role models, motivating me to pursue my dreams and contribute to my career. Coming from a country with less gender equity, this was truly refreshing.”

Each member left the event with a unique view on strategies to make Ottawa better. 

Their experience at the summit has inspired them to write about their ideas to make Ottawa a better city. Read them below!

María Paula Choque

“Based on the insights and discussions at the summit, I strongly believe that making Ottawa a more youth-friendly and livable city requires a focus on equity and inclusivity. Creating equal opportunities for youth from diverse backgrounds, ensuring equal access to resources and services, and fostering a culture of respect are essential steps to this future. 

To empower young people and encourage innovation, the introduction of entrepreneurship programs and initiatives in schools is vital. By providing mentorship programs, startup incubators and workshops, we can offer the guidance and support necessary for their entrepreneurial journeys. This will enable them to unleash their potential and contribute to the city’s economic growth.

Involving youth perspectives in construction and zoning planning across the city will also contribute to the creation of spaces that meet the needs and aspirations of youth. This can range from designing inclusive recreational areas and parks to considering affordable housing options and sustainable transportation solutions.

Further, establishing youth advisory boards or councils to give young residents a voice in decision-making processes will foster a sense of ownership and belonging. By actively involving youth, we can harness their enthusiasm and creativity to shape the future of Ottawa.

It is essential for young people to recognize that we are not just the generation of the future, but also agents of change in the present. By implementing these strategies and embracing the ideas and talents of young residents, Ottawa can become a truly vibrant, youth-friendly, and livable city that thrives on diversity, inclusivity, and innovation.”

Daniel Bersyniow

“Based on what I heard at the summit, I would prioritize investments in affordable housing, public transportation, and community spaces. 

I believe that creating more affordable housing options for young people will help address housing affordability and improve their quality of life. Affordable housing is a critical issue that affects university students and young people in many ways. For many students, housing is one of the biggest expenses they face, and affordable housing can make the difference between being able to pursue higher education or not. 

With the rising cost of tuition and other living expenses, affordable housing can help students manage their finances more effectively, reduce their financial stress, and focus on their studies.

However, the lack of affordable housing options can lead to overcrowding, substandard living conditions, or even homelessness, which can have a detrimental impact on students’ physical and mental health, academic performance, and overall well-being.

Moreover, affordable housing is important for young people who are starting their careers or establishing themselves in their communities. Young people need affordable housing options to be able to live independently, save money, and invest in their futures. Without affordable housing, young people may be forced to live with their parents, delay their career plans, or move to less desirable locations with fewer opportunities.”

What's next?

Learn more about OYEC by reading about their latest updates

Want to join OYEC? We’re still recruiting! 


  • Between the ages of 15-24 
  • Live in Ottawa
  • Enthusiastic, energetic & proactive
  • Able to participate by bringing new ideas, input, and fair decision-making to the table
  • Committed to attending 1-2 meetings a month for 1 year
  • A team player through fairness, integrity, and respect for others