An effort is underway to establish a strategy to reduce poverty on the Sunshine Coast and now the public is being invited to hear more about it, ask questions and share their experiences.
“The Sunshine Coast is experiencing a crisis,” said Poverty Reduction Strategy Project consultant Betty Baxter in a release announcing three forums called Coming Together on Poverty.
Baxter and consultant Pat Feindel have been working to assess needs and recommend actions by working with an advisory committee representing service organizations and people who live in poverty, according to the Sunshine Coast Resource Centre, which is leading the project with funding obtained from the Union of BC Municipalities by the District of Sechelt.
“Our research has uncovered that lack of affordable housing and childcare, food insecurity, and limited transportation options have taken a huge toll in our community. Some of the stories we are hearing are quite devastating,” said Baxter.
According to the project, rent and housing costs have doubled since 2016 and one in five Sunshine Coast children live in poverty.
The project, which launched in fall 2020 and started by developing a picture of poverty on the Sunshine Coast, is in its second stage – identifying what can be done to reduce poverty.
The consultants’ findings will be shared at the forums, and the organizers are also asking people to share their experiences and to ask questions about the project.
Each forum focuses on a specific area. The Gibsons forum was held March 29. Two more are scheduled for April:
• Sechelt – April 13 at 7 p.m.
• Rural areas – April 26 at 7 p.m.
The forums are organized in partnership with affordable housing group Cover the Coast, with the goal of developing “a shared vision of a healthy, caring, and fair community, and a commitment to take action and embrace changes required to address this issue,” says the release.
People can register for the free event at: www.resourcecentre.ca/imagine
A Poverty Reduction Strategy report is also expected to be released this spring.