First came the plan to reduce Lower Columbia poverty, now comes some action.
With a $125,000 boost from Columbia Basin Trust (Trust) the region’s multi-faceted “Thriving for All” poverty reduction plan will take first steps towards lifting barriers in housing, food security and the job market, as well as social, health and community services.
The Greater Trail Community Skills Centre Society will direct the $125,000 grant into several fronts, including training people to help individuals access local services, developing a card that will provide reduced or free access to services like recreation or transportation, and other efforts like community kitchens where people meet regularly to plan, cook and share healthy, affordable meals.
“This project will start to implement key aspects of ‘Thriving for All,’ the Lower Columbia regional poverty reduction plan that was developed by the community in 2017,” says Morag Carter, the society’s executive director.
“We are very excited to receive the funding from the Trust and we will work with the community to ensure that the projects improve the sense of inclusion for low-income households and begin to reduce poverty.”
“Thriving For All” was developed by versatile locals who brought insight and varied perspectives on people and poverty.
The collaboration represented all walks of life, including Teck Metals, Trail FAIR Society, Greater Trail Skills Centre,
Sanctuary, CDS (Career Development Services), hospice and the public library, Trail Mental Health and the LeRoi Community Foundation.
Current initiatives already underway include free Adult Basic Education courses and the Leisure Access Program, which provides residents who face economic challenges, the opportunity to partake in Trail recreation at reduced rates. There’s also “NCare” for seniors, Youth Action Networks in Rossland, Trail and the Beaver Valley funded by the Trust, and “Fetch Kootenay Boundary,” an on-line directory maintained by the Trail Family and Resource Society.
The plan identified priorities that promote better access to affordable transportation for low income households, increased access to social and health services, extending the Leisure Recreation Program to all local regional governments, and developing a Community Access Card for barrier free access to recreation, arts and culture for lower income households throughout the region.
The Trust announced Friday that $400,000 is being invested into four projects, including the Skills Centre’s, that are taking concrete, innovative actions toward improving the situation of low-income people in the Basin.
“We heard from Basin communities that they wanted to address poverty, and our goal is to support their efforts to reduce poverty across the region,” said the Trust’s Aimee Ambrosone in the news release. “These four projects are taking tangible steps toward that goal by working to help people overcome difficult financial circumstances.”
From a recent request for poverty-reduction proposals, the Trust selected the four projects to share the results, or lessons learned, with other Basin communities to help increase their reach.
The Nelson Social Planning Action Network (SPAN) Society is receiving $150,000 to help alleviate poverty by connecting low-income parents to services through community cafes, educating youth in financial literacy and employability, and helping local employers improve the lives of low-wage employees.
“This project builds on our work over the past four years to address Nelson’s very high poverty rate,” said Rona Park, Chair of the “Nelson at its Best” Ending Poverty Initiative and SPAN Board member. “We have good reason to believe that if we expand upon some of our earlier efforts, and continue to work closely with those with lived experience of poverty, we will see significant changes in people’s perceptions of poverty and feelings of isolation and exclusion in our community.”
The Golden Community Social Services Coop is receiving $112,000 to hire a coordinator to work one-on-one with people in need, giving them a local, personalized way to access services that may help them out of poverty.
“Our project will improve the accessibility of services for people in need,” said Jill Dewtie, Coordinator. “It will focus on connecting residents with the supports and resources available to them while treating each client as a dignified and worthy member of our community.”
The Ktunaxa Nation Council is developing a social enterprise that offers long-term, reliable employment for individuals living with special needs or challenged by unique circumstances who are currently unemployed or underemployed. The Trust is providing $25,000 to help develop the enterprise, and will consider further support once a plan is in place.
Business Development Officer Justin Paterson said, “We are looking forward to partnering with the Trust to undertake this initiative, which will help the Ktunaxa Nation Council create meaningful employment opportunities for Ktunaxa citizens within the territory.”