The word 'money' is being erased from a blackboard

SRD applying for $150,000 poverty reduction planning grant

The high cost of housing is one of the most visible symptoms. Close to a third of the households on Cortes Island and a quarter of those on Quadra pay more than they can afford for rent or mortgages. The most visible segment of Campbell River’s house challenged population are the 130 people who do not own or rent a home, but 2021 census data shows another 3,450 residents are ‘spending 30% or more of income on shelter costs.’

According to Stats Canada, the nation’s median hourly wage was 36 cents lower in 2021 than 2020, but costs are rising. The average family of four is expected to pay $1,000 more for groceries this year.  In a recent nationwide Angus Reid poll, 45% of the respondents said they are worse off this year than at the same time last year. 

The Strathcona Regional District (SRD) is applying for a $150,000 Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) grant to develop a plan for reducing poverty throughout the District.

image: Sleeping on the couch – Photo by Michael Mandiberg via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

Mayor Julie Colborne of Zeballos brought the motion forward at the Wednesday, February 8 board meeting, and it was seconded by Mark Vonesch, Regional Director of Cortes Island.

Renee  LaBoucane, SRD Manager of Strategic Initiatives, explained, “The intention of a regional poverty reduction strategy would be to develop greater cohesion in planning to reduce poverty throughout the region. A strategy could be developed collaboratively with member municipalities, key community partners, Indigenous organizations, business and people  with lived experience. A strategy would build upon existing data and projects such as the regional housing needs assessment, regional or rural housing surveys, the transportation study, and followed up with significant engagement and collaboration from all areas and sectors within our communities. It would develop a roadmap and actionable short and long-term activities to reduce poverty and work towards creating a region where people have sufficient income.” 

“’Stream one’ of the UBCM Poverty Reduction Program provides funding to develop plans and assessments. These plans are a prerequisite to access ‘Phase two’ of the funding,  which is designed to implement projects.”

“All costs for the development of a plan would be covered 100% through the grant. A regional district may access up to $150,000 of grant funding, whereas a single municipality is limited to $25,000. The application would be completed in partnership with interested municipalities and organizations. Applications are due March 17th.”

The only expressed concerns about this motion seemed to focus on potential entanglements. 

Gerald Whalley,Regional Director of Area A, asked, “Will there be any future costs to the electoral areas and the municipalities to support this program?”

LaBoucane replied, “I think that would depend on the outcome of the plan  and what it looked like. There is funding for implementation for phase two of this particular program. So they would access the funds through that. As well, it opens the door for other grants that might be available to implement projects.”

“My only concern is that after the grant money dries up, are we still committed and obligated to continue on funding something ourselves?” said Whalley. 

At that point Chief Administration Officer David Leitch interjected, “No, we’re not obligated to do anything.”

Campbell River Director Ron Kerr wanted to make sure, “Once the plan is developed, would any future grant applications still come back to the Board?” 

“Correct,” said Leitch. 

The motion to apply for a $150,000 grant to develop a plan for reducing poverty in the SRD passed with no opposing votes.

This article was originally published on Feb 10 and some minor edits made Feb 11, 2023.

Top image credit: Money being wiped out – Photo by Images Money via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

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