Ladysmith is ready to start enacting its poverty reduction strategy.
The Town of Ladysmith, in a press release Dec. 1, announced that town council has directed a poverty reduction task group to lead the implementation of the Community Together to End Poverty Hw-nuts’-ulwum (As One) project that has been adopted by council.
The town was awarded a $50,000 grant through the Union of B.C. Municipalities this past spring to support projects within the strategy, including food security. Initiatives include a harvesting/gleaning program, food delivery to Stz’uminus residents in need, and after-school nutritious snack programs in the community. There are also plans for cultural awareness workshops and a food security information fair.
“Raising awareness about hidden poverty in our community and educating about the stigma and discrimination that many in our community face through community dialogues will benefit everyone in our community,” said Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone in the release.
The poverty reduction strategy found that in the Cowichan Valley North region, nearly 5,000 adults and more than 3,000 children under 18 are considered part of low-income households that “struggle to make ends meet.” Those numbers represent 11-12 per cent of adults and nearly 15 per cent of youths.
Aside from food security and cultural awareness, other “poverty themes” identified in the strategy included affordable housing, public transportation, education and employment, health care including mental health and addiction services, physical health and wellness, income supports, and mental discomfort and stress.
The town press release notes that the importance of implementing the poverty reduction strategy is magnified by recent data that found that the living wage in the Cowichan Valley us now $23.53 an hour, an increase of more than 20 per cent from a year ago.
Social Planning Cowichan will facilitate the task group and the funding will “assist community partners to implement tangible, attainable actions identified in the strategy,” the town said.