Nelson’s Social Action Planning Network wants to create a long-term poverty reduction plan for the city and is looking for ways to fund the initiative.
Chair Rona Park attended a recent Nelson council meeting to request that the city apply for a Healthy Community grant to put towards the project, and also used the opportunity to explain the benefits of having a made-in-Nelson strategy.
“You can’t expect poverty to just be reduced or mitigated on it’s own,” Park said. “You need strategies and a focused energy on it.”
Once the funding is in place, the society will convene a multi-sectoral roundtable for poverty reductions that will develop a plan that includes recommended actions reduction targets and evaluation methods.
Park said several communities, including Revelstoke and Cranbrook, have already created plans to address poverty, which Nelson can model theirs after. BC is the only province that does not have a provincial Poverty Reduction Plan.
A 2012 Ipsos Reid survey for Nelson found poverty/homelessness was one of the Top 3 issues of concern to residents. In 2013 SPAN conducted its own survey, which ranked poverty as the fourth most important issue to address. Both surveys found housing affordability was the No. 1 concern.
Park said there are many social issues that stem from poverty, including the struggle to afford housing. One of the components of SPAN’s plan will be to determine Nelson’s living wage — the minimum amount a worker needs to earn to meet their basic needs.
“There are many faces of poverty in this community and the one we see most visibly on the street is probably the one this strategy will attack the least,” Park said, citing hidden poverty among families, the working poor and seniors as the primary concern.
Several city councillors expressed their support for SPAN’s initiative. They will vote at the March 3 meeting whether to apply on SPAN’s behalf for the Healthy Community grant worth $20,000.
SPAN is also has its name in for grants totaling more than $45,000 through the BC Gaming Branch, Columbia Basin Trust’s community development program, and the City of Nelson’s community initiative funding.