Emergency Response Coordinator Shaun Koopman approached Emergency Management BC in response to concerns expressed in the Strathcona Regional District’s rural communities. There was a need for low income people to access groceries in Campbell River. Community groups in Tahsis (400 private dwellings) , Campbell River (population 35,138) and Read Island (population 66) applied for funding in March. A recent press release states that last month the SRD Delivered over $10,000 to community organizations assisting vulnerable members of the regional district with food and other essentials.
Concerns About People With Low Incomes
“This grant opportunity is still accepting applications and will continue to be available as long as the physical distancing recommendations from the Provincial Health Orders remain in place” says Shaun Koopman, SRD Protective Services Coordinator. “Regional District staff continue to assist applicants with crafting their submission package and we encourage interested community organizations to reach out for assistance or questions”.
In a previous interview, Koopman explained, “Whether it was Gold River, Tahsis or Cortes, I just kept hearing concerns about people with low incomes not being able to do all their shopping in town. Usually the local community doesn’t have the grocery supply anyway. How can we encourage people to limit their trips to town and provide them with the service and funding to help make that happen?”
Why Cortes Is Different
This program did not go forward on Cortes Island (population 1,035) because local stores stepped forward to fill the need.
“If you live on Cortes, stay put. Purchase your gas and food supplies locally. We have everything you need. Local stores can administer those supplies and have them brought in, There is no need for anyone to go off island right now.”said Teri Cunningham, from the Squirrel Cove General Store, said at the first of the island’s virtual community meetings.
The Cortes Market, Gorge Harbour store and Cortes Natural Food Co-op have been offering free home delivery since the COVID crises began.
While this solution might not work on an island as sparsely populated as Read Island or in urban Campbell River, every Cortes Island store reports increased sales.
The Southern Cortes Community Association, which works alongside the Food Bank, currently does not see the need to hire a driver to deliver these groceries.
A Successful SRD Initiative
None of this detracts from the SRD’s delivery of a successful program.
“It’s fantastic to see the value of organized response and that this program is assisting organizations throughout the region, from the outer Discovery Islands to Tahsis.” says Strathcona Regional District Board Chair Michele Babchuk. “This funding is for community organizations who have proposed a plan to offer assistance with grocery shopping, the delivery of food, prescriptions and other essentials for the benefit of the elderly (65+) and other vulnerable persons who must self-isolate in accordance with Public Health Orders.”