OPINION: If Boundary poverty plan comes with action items, I’m in

The Boundary faces unique issues within the RDKB, and those need to be addressed

The Boundary, for the most part, is one of the final bastions of (relatively) affordable living in B.C. I rent a spacious one-bedroom apartment for the cost of my friend’s Kitsilano closet. Food in the grocery stores is affordable here, not jacked up sky high like that $12 frozen pizza I once bought on Haida Gwaii (yes, I should have just had fish instead). And yet still, the percentage of the Boundary’s population that lives below the nationally recognized low-income measure is well higher than that of the province as a whole.

We’re affordable here, for many, but prices keep climbing and with that comes a need for us as a community to double down and ensure that our friends and neighbours don’t get squeezed out between the cracks.

In Area E, more than one in three kids live in a household under the low-income measure. While the RDKB-wide average for that figure sits at 18.6 per cent, the average across the six electoral jurisdictions west of the Paulson Bridge is nearly 10 points higher, at 28.5 per cent.

RELATED: Boundary looks to address poverty across region through B.C. grant

I’ve heard murmurs of discussions over the past few weeks asking why the RDKB is pursuing a poverty reduction study and strategy for the Boundary in particular – questions that seem to whistle at the idea that Grand Forks’ support for the Boundary-specific study might turn the city into a dumping ground for social services and that we will have to shoulder funding burdens of new projects.

Firstly, Grand Forks, we need to recognize that for all intents and purposes, we are the urban hub for the Boundary, and with that necessarily comes some social services. If you think that some services may be taxing on the city, consider your neighbours in Greenwood and Midway, towns of just over 600 people each, and their capacity. We are it, and we need to recognize that and accept the responsibility that comes with it.

Sure, Trail and Castlegar are bigger – after all, they do both have Canadian Tires – but they’re more than an hour’s drive away in perfect weather. If you have a car and can pay for gas to get there.

To questions around why the RDKB is looking specifically at the Boundary, it is because the Columbia side of the regional district already completed a poverty study of its own, privately funded through industry and the Columbia Basin Trust.

Perhaps the fact that our fellow electors to the east can do such a thing under the power of their own local resources while we seek provincial funding for the study is telling. We desperately need it, and we should seriously consider following through on the actions any future report would prescribe.

In 2019, both the Boundary Community Food Bank and the Boundary Women’s Coalition – which operates the transition house in Grand Forks – saw record demand. It’s fantastic that we have these services in our community, and a plan such as that being pursued by the RDKB could go a good way to helping them out even more.

To be clear, a poverty reduction plan is not strictly a plan to cure homelessness in any area, though that would be great, to be certain. A poverty reduction plan ought to lay out a framework that would make life more sustainably affordable for the community at large.

According to the authors of the Lower Columbia report, “‘Thriving For All: Lower Columbia Poverty Reduction Plan’ is a potential roadmap to working to alleviate the struggle of some of our neighbours here in the West Kootenay, many of whom we may not even realize are struggling.”

That’s the key. “From surviving to thriving” is the driving phrase behind the report. It’s beautiful rhetoric, to be sure, but taken seriously, I think we can all imagine what “thriving” looks like to us in the Boundary. It means a place to live safely, food to grow and eat and share, opportunities to learn, exercise, and grow ourselves as people and as a community.


@jensenedw
Jensen.edwards@grandforksgazette.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Poverty reduction

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Councillor Neil Krog wanted to ask Grand Forks voters at December’s byelection if they’d support a year-round homeless shelter and BC Housing’s proposed supportive housing facility. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
No referendum on homelessness solutions after Grand Forks council meeting

The motion by Councillor Neil Krog failed on a tie vote Monday, Oct. 19

A health-care worker prepares to swab a man at a walk-in COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal North, Sunday, May 10, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)
Interior Health records 21 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

Thirty-six cases remain active; two people are in the hospital, one of whom is in intensive care

Ski touring operators are changing how they plan to operate due to the pandemic. Photo: Curtis Cunningham photo
With winter looming, West Kootenay ski tour operators say they’ve adapted

COVID-19 has meant businesses are changing how the upcoming season will run

Advance polls are now open for the 2020 B.C. election. (Black Press File)
BC Votes 2020: Meet your Boundary Similkameen candidates

A round up of candidates’ bios, responses to our questions, and more

Rob Louie has formed a non-profit organization he says will assist band members in legal disputes with their councils. Photo: Submitted
UPDATED: Indigenous legal organization created to help band members keep councils accountable

Rob Louie has created Band Members Alliance and Advocacy Association of Canada

Conservative member of Parliament Pierre Poilievre speaks during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on October 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals say Tory effort to set up COVID-19 committee will be a confidence matter

The Tories were originally proposing an ‘anticorruption’ committee

A injection kit is seen inside the newly opened Fraser Health supervised consumption site is pictured in Surrey, B.C., Tuesday, June 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. records 127 fatal overdoses in September, roughly 4 each day

Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria continued to see the highest numbers of overdoses

Investigators work at the Sagmoen farm in Silver Creek. - Image credit: Observer file photo.
Sex workers allegedly called to farm of Okanagan man convicted of assault, RCMP investigating

Curtis Sagmoen, convicted in relation to assault of sex trade workers, is prohibited from soliciting escorts

(Black Press Media files)
Early voters more likely to favour NDP, but overall B.C. election is tightening: poll

According to Elections BC, 383,477 people cast a ballot during advanced voting days

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Pixabay)
Wave of racist emails ‘unleashed’ on B.C. researchers investigating racism in health care

The team has received close to 600 calls and emails since the investigation started in July

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Most Read