Lower Columbia Looks Poverty in the Eye

In partnership with Selkirk College, the Skills Centre is releasing research to support the development of a poverty reduction strategy for the Lower Columbia Region.

The Surviving, Not Thriving report covers several topics from income and employment, to food security, housing, early childhood vulnerability, transportation, and recreation.

“The indicators in this report provide insight into poverty in our region,” said Jan Morton, Executive Director of the Skills Centre. “This information will serve to guide a poverty reduction planning process, which will involve not only people who are living in poverty and agencies delivering services to individuals and families in poverty, but also local government, businesses, and other stakeholders”.

One of the indicators is housing affordability, which looks at whether households are spending more than 30% of their income on shelter. In the Lower Columbia Region – which includes the municipalities of Trail, Rossland, Fruitvale, Montrose, Warfield, and Electoral Areas A and B of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, more than 20% of all households are in “housing need”, with nearly 60% of these households located in Trail. Just over half are home owners, and just under half are renters.

The Living Wage calculation is also included, which has only been completed by a handful of communities across the Columbia Basin-Boundary region. The Living Wage calculates the hourly wage needed to meet the needs of a household consisting of two adults and two children (aged four and seven). The research shows that a Living Wage for the Lower Columbia is $18.21 per hour – much higher than the minimum wage of $10.85, which is set by the provincial government.

“This research is a result of the Teck Serv Student Applied Research Internship,” said Dr. Terri MacDonald, Regional Innovation Chair at Selkirk College’s Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute (RDI). “Through a generous grant from Teck Trail Operations, each year a Selkirk College student is able to undertake a local applied research project to support a community organization”. Tu Anh Phung is a Selkirk College business student who worked with the Skills Centre to pull together the information. The RDI supported the work with a connection to their Poverty Reduction Indicators Project which aims to support an enhanced understanding of poverty through a number of community-based applied research pilot projects across the Columbia Basin-Boundary region.

“A poverty reduction process requires openness, courage, and commitment from many sectors of the community”, added Morton. “We are thankful for the opportunity to receive support to do the research, and now to create an action plan that will look poverty right in the eye.”

To view the Surviving, Not Thriving report and learn more about the upcoming poverty reduction planning process visit http://www.communityskillscentre.com/poverty-reduction/