Together Nelson has launched a four-year plan to reduce poverty in the city. Illustration: Together Nelson

Together Nelson has launched a four-year plan to reduce poverty in the city. Illustration: Together Nelson

Together Nelson releases poverty reduction plan

The strategy seeks to reduce local poverty over four years

Submitted by Together Nelson

Nelson is a great place to live. But not everyone is thriving in our community. Over 2,100 community members live in poverty in Nelson – friends and neighbours – children, youth, adults and seniors.

Together Nelson is a community-based initiative launched in the fall of 2020 to better understand local poverty in order to create a four-year, community-based, action strategy to reduce poverty in and around Nelson.

The release of this four-year strategy marks the conclusion of a year of research, data analysis, community engagement and planning that had input from over 80 people in our community. Together Nelson heard thoughts and ideas from a broad range of people — people with lived or living experience of poverty, Indigenous people, local businesses, community leaders, front-line social service workers, local police, local government, and representatives from provincial government offices including education, health, mental health, children and families, social development and poverty reduction.

Community input helped guide strategy development resulting in the identification of five Pathways To Change, with over 100 actions that were prioritized into the top 16 to effect the greatest change in reducing poverty in the Nelson area.

This Community Action Strategy is data-driven and focuses on highest need with priority consideration given to the two largest groups currently experiencing poverty in the Nelson area – single parents and low-income earners. It proposes lifting 500 people, primarily in these two groups, out of poverty over the next four years (roughly 25 per cent of those currently living in poverty).

The Strategy puts forward that our community does things differently in order to effect change. It embraces a community-wide, multi-sector approach that focuses on shared responsibility and economic inclusion. This means all levels of local government and all sectors of the community have an important role to play in creating inclusive economic development by investing in a more equitable local economy, from the bottom up — an approach that acknowledges economic growth is likely to be better for everyone’s pocketbooks and for our collective well-being.

Priority actions identified here will have a ripple effect on Nelson’s surrounding communities. Employment, education, and community support opportunities initiated in Nelson may be accessed by people living in surrounding communities where similar opportunities may not exist. We anticipate communities such as the Slocan Valley and Salmo, both reporting poverty rates even higher than Nelson, will benefit from Together Nelson’s efforts.

To implement this community action strategy, a collective impact governance structure has been put forward that will enable multiple organizations and community leaders to support poverty reduction. There is opportunity for 30-40 community leaders to be directly involved through the strategy’s Community Voices Advisory Group, Community Leadership Team, and Community Action Teams, along with many more community members who will participate in, and benefit from, priority activities.

The development of this Community Action Strategy has been funded by the Province of B.C. (via UBCM), Columbia Basin Trust, Nelson and District Credit Union, Kootenay Career Development Society, and The Canadian Federation of University Women (Nelson).

You are encouraged to read the full Community Action Strategy at https://bestnelson.org/together-nelson.

To get involved, contact bestofnelson@hotmail.com.