How should the District of Port Hardy tackle the tough issue of local poverty?
A Poverty Reduction Planning & Action Program was discussed in-depth at the district’s Nov. 12 meeting of council.
A staff report from Chief Administrative Officer Allison McCarrick was included in the agenda, with some important details made available regarding the program.
The aim of the program is “to support local governments in reducing poverty at the local level and to support the Province’s poverty reduction strategy. The Province has provided $5 million over three years and the program is administered by the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM).”
According to McCarrick’s report, “If decided by Council that the District should apply to the program for funding, that the application be included in the duties of the consultant chosen by the District to review and update the District Official Community Plan (OCP).”
Eligible projects must:
* Include one of the following focus areas: housing, education and training, income supports, families, children and youth, employment, social supports.
* Be a new project.
* Be capable to complete within one year from grant approval.
* Involve key sectors of the community including community-based poverty reduction
organizations, people with lived experience of poverty, businesses, local First Nations and/or Indigenous organizations.
The application deadline is February 28, 2020 and applicants will be advised of the status of their application within 60 days of the application deadline.
McCarrick’s breakdown of the program was listed as such:
This grant program offers 2 streams
* Stream 1: Poverty Reduction Plans and Assessments
The intent of stream 1 is to support communities to develop or update assessments or plans in order to reduce poverty at the local level.
The funding maximum under stream 1 is $25,000 for a single applicant and $150,000 for regional applications. Eligible activities must be cost-effective and include:
– Development of a local Poverty Reduction plan or assessment that addresses one or more of the six priority action areas as identified in TogetherBC;
– Engagement of people living in poverty or with a lived experience of poverty in planning activities;
– Adding a poverty reduction lens including specific activities and outcomes to support people living in poverty, to existing plans or policies, such as:
Official Community Plans or community or neighbourhood plans;
Zoning and other policies;
Development permit requirements;
Emergency response, evacuation, and/or emergency support services plans;
Food security and food systems planning;
Community planning processes related to social determinants of health (e.g. affordable housing, homelessness, etc.).
* Stream 2 Poverty Reduction Action
The intent of stream 2 is to support communities to undertake local projects in order to reduce poverty at the local level.
The funding maximum under stream 2 is $50,000 for a single applicant and $150,000 for regional applications.
In order to be eligible for stream 2 funding, eligible applicants are required to have completed a Poverty Reduction plan or assessment, or demonstrate that their Official Community Plan, or an equivalent plan, is inclusive of poverty reduction principles.
Currently the district does not have a Poverty Reduction plan nor have an equivalent plan that is inclusive of poverty reduction principles.
Under stream 1 the District may include adding a poverty reduction lens including specific activities and outcomes to support people livingin poverty, to existing plans or policies, such as their Official Community Plan (OCP).
The District is currently undertaking a review of their OCP and this eligible project could be included in that review.
McCarrick’s report then discussed the financial implications of the program, stating there is “no contribution required by local government if awarded the grant funding.”
The staff report included three options for council to choose from, which are listed below:
1. Include applying to the Poverty Reduction Planning & Action Program in the duties of the consultant chosen to review the District OCP, and if granted the award, include adding a poverty reduction lens including specific activities and outcomes to support people living in poverty, to the District OCP review.
2. Do not make application to the Poverty Reduction Planning & Action Program.
3. Provide staff with an alternate decision of Council.
“I think it’s a good idea,” said Coun. Fred Robertson. “We’ve all heard the rates of child poverty in our community, which are quite high compared to the rest of the province.”
“I would like to move option one,” said Coun. Leightan Wishart.
Port Hardy council agreed with Wishart’s motion and they all voted unanimously for district staff to go ahead with option 1 as was presented.