A poverty reduction plan is in the works for Hope.
Free Rein Associates got the green light from council on Dec. 9 to move ahead with research into strategies to target poverty and improve the situation for Hope’s impoverished.
Free Rein attended a provincial announcement of a new initiative, called the TogetherBC: British Columbia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. Within that plan, Free Rein noted there were several actions they could take to impact poverty in Hope.
The Provincial Reduction Strategy Act has set targets to reduce the overall poverty rate in B.C. by at least 25 per cent, and the child poverty rate by 50 per cent, by 2024. A lot of that work will likely rest with organizations similar to Free Rein.
The plan comes with provincial funding, noted Peter Bailey, as he presented the plan to council. And it’s divided into two streams.
The first stream will provide up to $25,000 to develop a local plan. Those will target one or more of six “priority action areas.” Those are housing, families, children and youth, education and training, employment, income supports and social supports.
Key priorities within those area could include mental health and addictions, food security, transportation and access to health care.
The second stream is where the action actually happens. Once the research is collected by Free Rein, including collecting results of previous studies taken recently by others, they will be able to create a Hope-centric action plan.
The funding for that portion of the initiative is up to $50,000 per community, and what that action will look like will depend on the data gathered and needs identified.
Bailey said the plan is based on action, not just gathering more data.
It could include pilot projects to reduce transit fares, recreation fees and other services for low-income residents. It could also include awareness campaigns to reduce stigma around poverty and promoting social inclusion. One of the possibilities is also a food security plan that could involve food-waste diversion projects.
Funding for a poverty reduction plan and strategies is something that many in the community have attempted to secure, noted Councillor Heather Stewin. She noted that there are even more people who struggle financially that the province doesn’t classify as impoverished, even though they only miss the mark by small margins. She said she hopes the strategies will make life easier for those people as well.
Free Rein will be doing all the leg work for the applications necessary, due to the Province by February 2020, while the District of Hope will manage the overall grant.
Council approved the project unanimously.