Regional Chair's Youth Advisory Panel Terms of Reference


According to recent census data, approximately seven per cent of Niagara's population falls between the ages of 13 and 19. This is a sizeable share of the Region's population that often interacts with Regional programs, services and policies in unexpected ways. The views and preferences of this demographic can sometimes go underrepresented in the decision-making process. The Regional Chair and Council agree that a formal opportunity for youth input should be made available to ensure more voices are considered when creating public policy.

It is generally accepted that different backgrounds, thought processes and unique viewpoints assist an organization in tackling problems and help to achieve optimal results. The diversity of thought brought forward through a youth-focused panel may provide Council with additional insights and perspective that will be beneficial to the decision-making process.


The Regional Chair's Youth Advisory Panel is a body established by the Niagara Regional Chair in accordance with the following terms of reference. The panel will provide recommendations, advice and information to the Regional Chair and Regional staff on matters pertaining to youth in Niagara. The panel will provide a platform for youth across the region to share inter-municipal information.

Goals and purpose

The Regional Chair's Youth Advisory Panel provides information and advice to the Regional Chair and staff on matters related to youth that intersect Regional policies and programs and services, as referred to it by the Regional Chair’s Office.

Items initiated by the advisory panel itself would be subject to review and approval of the Regional Chair’s Office.

Specifically, the panel will:

  • Provide the perspective of youth on Regional matters that affect their daily lives, such as public transportation, waste management, affordable housing, land use planning, active transportation and volunteer opportunities
  • Provide advice to the Region on its policies, services and programs that pertain to youth
  • Identify gaps / barriers and suggest solutions to the participation of youth in Regional programs and services
  • Provide a forum for dialogue between youth and Niagara Region on matters of collective interest
  • Foster youth engagement in local government

The panel has no decision-making authority, is advisory only, and does not direct staff.


The Regional Chair's Youth Advisory Panel will have no operational budget.



There shall be a maximum of 12 voting members on the Regional Chair's Youth Advisory Panel.

Voting members must be between 13 and 19 years of age.

Additionally, non-voting membership shall include:

  • Regional Chair
  • One Regional Councillor (acting as a volunteer to the panel)
  • Designated staff members from the Regional Chair's office

Other staff may be requested to join meetings or support the work of the panel as need arises.

Every reasonable effort will be made to ensure there is a diversity of backgrounds, experiences and viewpoints among the membership.

Applications for membership on the panel shall be reviewed by a selection committee comprised of the Regional Chair, Regional Council volunteer representative, and staff from the Office of the Regional Chair.


The term of membership shall be one year, with an option for members to remain on the panel for an additional year. In the event a member chooses not to continue for a second year, a recruitment will be conducted to ensure that the vacant position is filled.

Roles and responsibilities

Panel members

Members will fulfill their obligations to this ad-hoc advisory panel by offering their perspective on civic matters that affect their daily lives and making a constructive contribution towards creating a strong forum for dialogue between youth and Niagara Region on matters of collective interest.

Regional Council volunteer representative

A member of Regional Council may sit on the panel in a volunteer capacity and shall not be permitted to vote on items that are being considered. The Regional Councillor has the responsibility of providing advice, guidance and counsel to the panel on how best to position their recommendations. The Regional Councillor will also contribute contextual information that may help inform the decision-making process of the panel.

Regional Chair's staff

Staff from the Regional Chair's office will provide procedural direction and guidance. Designated staff from the Chair's office will also provide advice regarding Regional operations when required.

Resource support

Resource support may also be provided, by invitation, from specific organizations, local area municipalities and other local agencies, to offer expertise and assistance on matters under consideration by the Panel and/or for information-sharing purposes.

Panel members

All panel members have the responsibility to help achieve the panel's mandate and purposes. Panel members are also responsible for:

  • Reviewing meeting materials before the meetings and arriving prepared to provide a broad perspective on the issues under consideration
  • Working diligently to complete assigned activities
  • Agreeing to describe, process and resolve issues in a professional and respectful manner
  • Providing input to help identify future projects or strategic priorities for future years' work
  • Communicating activities of the panel to groups represented or those who may have an interest and offer information back to the panel


The Regional Chair's Youth Advisory Panel will meet a minimum of two times each year. The panel will also convene on an ad-hoc basis to discuss, provide comments and feedback on issues as requested by Regional staff. Should a time sensitive matter arise requiring immediate attention, the Youth Advisory Panel may meet at the discretion of the Office of the Regional Chair.

Meetings will be held at Regional Headquarters and / or in a online format at a time as determined by the members. The Region shall provide accommodations for those that have barriers to connecting to meetings online.

A panel member who is unable to attend a meeting, shall forward their regrets to the Office of Regional Chair as soon as possible. Should the Office of Regional Chair not have confirmation of quorum 24 hours before the meeting, the meeting shall be cancelled.


Members who miss two unauthorized consecutive meetings shall be deemed to have resigned from the panel and will be notified of this in writing by the Regional Chair's office.

Amendments to the terms of reference

The terms of reference should be reviewed and refined at a minimum of every four years to ensure that they remain current and meaningful.

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