Several statistical findings have painted Nelson in a grey light, according to a community-based initiative.
Together Nelson, launched late last year, was put together to assess and understand what the issue of poverty was in the city, and compile a four-year action plan to address the city’s needs to be released later this year.
But what it has found was a wide gap in the provision of childcare in the city. There needs to be three times as many childcare spaces in Nelson for the service to even address half of the need, according Together Nelson roundtable findings.
Currently, there are 378 licensed childcare spaces in Nelson, including Areas E and F of the regional district. However, there needs to be 863 additional spaces in order to hit a target of 55 per cent coverage. Sixty-four spaces have been approved and are being created in 2021.
“The potential for increased availability of universal quality childcare will help address this gap,” noted the report from Together Nelson.
Nearly one third of Nelson children live in low-income households, almost 10 per cent higher than the provincial rate (18.5 per cent) and the federal one (18.2 per cent).
The three R’s
The number of child early development index “vulnerabilities” is on the increase in the city, according to the roundtable.
Drawing from a School District No. 8 study — for Nelson only — it was found the early development index (EDI) was rising while for the rest of the district it was decreasing.
EDI is a regular assessment of children’s readiness to learn, examining “developmental vulnerabilities” in five areas; language/literacy; numeracy; physical; socio-emotional; and cognitive development.
“Quality early childhood experience is known to improve EDI scores and life course success,” the roundtable found.
As well, the city’s graduation rate has also decreased in the last three years from 86 per cent in 2017-18 to 83 per cent last year, with a post-secondary education rate in the population at 22 per cent, three per cent lower than the B.C. average.
Making it work
Last year the unemployment rate in the city nearly doubled.
Between August 2019 and August 2020 the unemployment rate rose from six per cent to 11.3 per cent, with the majority of employees in Nelson working part time (64 per cent) and the remainder working full time (36 per cent).
Within the ranks of the employed, the largest population is in sales and service roles (23 per cent). Healthcare and social services follow at 15 per cent, while retail trade (13 per cent) and construction (nine per cent) round out the top industries. Five per cent of workers are in arts/culture or recreation/sport roles, according to the roundtable findings.
Over 1,400 people received employment insurance in 2018 and 679 people received social or disability assistance in 2019.
According to Statistics Canada for June the unemployment rate has increased to 13.1 per cent for the Southern Interior region, which includes Nelson.
A healthy attitude
Over one third of the city’s residents are not attached to a general practitioner (or nurse practitioner) and almost one third of the city is not attached to a health care practice.
That’s a five per cent higher rate of non-attachment to a health care practice than surrounding communities such as Arrow Lakes, Castlegar, Kootenay Lake and Trail.
Nearly one half of renter households in Nelson spend more than one third of their income on rent and heat, with over one fifth (21 per cent) of home owners in that same category.
Around one third (31 per cent) of single parent households live in unaffordable situations where they pay more than 30 per cent of their income on shelter.
Although 61 per cent of households own their home, over half (54 per cent) of Nelson’s Indigenous community members rent their homes.
There were 132 people identified as homeless (unsheltered, emergency sheltered, or provisionally accommodated) during the last homeless count (April, 2019), including accompanying dependent children:
• 95 were unsheltered and 58 have called Nelson home for at least 10 years;
• 46 identified as Indigenous; and
• 24 were under age 25.
The summary was based on a review of data ranging from 2015 to 2019, with some 2020-2021 data. Together Nelson partnered with community organizations, municipal and regional governments to better understand poverty and identify local strategies on poverty reduction.
• The estimated 2019 City of Nelson population is 11,359 made up of 20 per cent children and youth, 60 per cent adults and 20 per cent seniors.
• Five per cent identify as Indigenous; 13 per cent are immigrants born outside Canada.
• The number of new immigrants per year is less than one per cent.
• There are 8,950 households in Nelson: 4,850 family households and 4,100 single households.
• Of the 4,850 family households, 4,123 (85 per cent) are couples and 727 (15 per cent) are single parent households.
• Forty three per cent of family households have children, and of these, nearly half (44 per cent) are singles.
By the numbers
• Thirteen per cent of adults in Nelson have no post-secondary education.
• Full-time, average monthly childcare costs, after eligible fee reductions, are $718 for infants and toddlers, $754 for three- to five-year-old children, and $350 for school-aged children in after school care.
• The median income of couple families is $88,760 per year. The median income of single parent families is $42,030 per year. Single parents earn roughly 40 per cent less than couples with children.
• On average, in 2019, Nelson Food Banks received 50 visits a day and served 73 emergency food services/community meals a day.