City council received an update on the cross-government anti-poverty initiative that launched in seven communities, including Cranbrook, back in 2012.
At the June 9 meeting, council discussed a letter from Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children and Family Development, about the Community Poverty Reduction Pilot Project. Cadieux wrote that although the ministry won’t be “expanding the pilot project at this time, the province will continue to work with local governments to develop and implement community poverty reduction strategies.”
Jackie Tegart, MLA for Fraser-Nicola, will now act as the poverty liaison. Tegart will visit each pilot community and work with community organizations and different levels of government to move the plans forward.
The city will be having one such meeting on June 19, where the parties involved will discuss the next steps for a community poverty initiatives.
Cadieux said she looks forward to hearing how the meeting goes.
Mayor Wayne Stetski noted that in Cranbrook there are problems with poverty. For instance, the Salvation Army provides 150 meals to students in the city on some days.
“The problem basically has been that when school is not operating, for whatever reason, kids don’t get their meal,” Stetski said, adding that weekends and the summer break is a concern as well. “The good news is there are now people working to cover weekends and days when school is out.”
Stetski said he met with the ministerial association, and some of the churches around town are now serving meals as well.
“It’s unbelievable in a country as rich as Canada and a community as rich as Cranbrook, that we have kids that go hungry,” he said.
Stetski also said resident Christy Wheeldon was so moved by that she started collecting money from businesses in Cranbrook to feed the hungry in the city. Stetski noted that she likely didn’t want the recognition.
Coun. Angus Davis said he was moved by the presentation in April by a young mother helped by the anti-poverty initiative.
“She had the courage to tell her story about what life was like and how she and her family were doing,” Davis said. “When the government can come along and help some people that need a little bit of direction and a bit of encouragement, it’s not money or anything, it’s self esteem that this girl picked up.”
Davis said he was sorry to hear the program would be cancelled.
Stetski clarified that the program was not cancelled, but to his understanding was not being expanded to other cities.
“But I guess on the 19th we’ll find out whether they will continue the program in the second trial in Cranbrook,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll be able to report back with good news.”