The region’s first Poverty Reduction Plan was funded by Columbia Basin Trust, Kootenay Savings, Teck, Vibrant Communities Canada, and CDS. Guiding the planning process from start to finish have been the members of the Design Team who brought to our varied perspectives on people and poverty: Jan Morton Greater Trail Community Skills Centre; Carol Vanelli Worosz Teck Metals Ltd; Ann Godderis, Janet MacNeil and Geri-Lynn Rempel Trail FAIR Society; Louise McEwan LeRoi Community Foundation; Kathryn Foley Trail Library; Ken Potter Sanctuary; Barbara Gibson and Brenda Hooper Sanctuary and Trail Hospice; Lila Cresswell Skills Centre Board/Village of Fruitvale;Karen Miller Trail Mental Health; Sheila Adcock and Gail Pighin Career Development Services.

Awareness is key to less poverty in Lower Columbia

Committee releases “Thriving for All: Lower Columbia Poverty Reduction Plan”

Before any change can happen there has to be awareness.

After serving on the panel for the region’s first Poverty Reduction Plan, and working at Trail Sanctuary Pre-Teen Centre for 20 years, that’s how Ken Potter summed up his experiences so far.

“It’s always good to meet other people concerned with helping people locally,” Potter said. “I learned more about several organizations, and more about the situation on the ground,” he added.

“I’m just happy to see more awareness since change can’t even begin until you know you need to.”

“Thriving For All: Lower Columbia Poverty Reduction Plan,” was developed by a “Design Team” who brought insight and varied perspectives on people and poverty. Those members represented all walks of life, including Teck Metals, Trail FAIR Society, Greater Trail Skills Centre, Sanctuary, CDS (Career Development Services), hospice and the public library, Trail Mental Health and the LeRoi Community Foundation.

One of those members was Sheila Adcock, a longtime program coordinator at CDS, which is a Trail area organization that assists those living with barriers to employment and housing.

(CDS operates under the umbrella of Trail Association for Community Living, referred to as TACL)

“I was happy to participate in the process of building a Poverty Reduction Plan for Greater Trail,” said Adcock. “I think there was a lot of very useful information shared throughout the process by many organizations, individuals with lived experience and local government officials.”

A number of individuals that are supported by CDS actively participated in the process sharing their lived experience insights and ideas in the development of the plan.

“At the end of the initial summit there were breakout groups that were working on specific identified goals and I have been sitting on a couple of those groups,” Adcock explained.

“One of the ideas I am particularly excited about is the recognition of the importance of having a ‘Navigator’ person that will assist others to navigate systems and get their needs met.”

She says there was much talk about how confusing it can be to identify what resources exist within the Greater Trail community and how individuals can access those resources.

“The outreach workers at CDS/TACL are natural navigators with the individuals we support,” she said. “They assist with identifying the resources in the community and in breaking down the steps to be able to access these resources for the individuals we support,” she added.

“I am excited to be on a team of other community agencies that are working towards developing the Navigator training that can be offered to others in the community.”

The ultimate strategies to reduce poverty and increase the opportunity to thrive fell into five themes: housing, food security, social, health and community services as well as vibrant and inclusive economy.

While it’s too early to project the plan’s outcomes, current initiatives are already underway that include free Adult Basic Education courses, and the Leisure Access Program, which provides residents who face economic challenges the opportunity to participate in Trail Parks and Recreation services at reduced rates. There’s also “NCare” for seniors, Youth Action Networks in Rossland, Trail and the Beaver Valley funded by Columbia Basin Trust and “Fetch Kootenay Boundary,” an on-line directory maintained by the Trail Family and Resource Society.

The plan recommends priorities and actions that include promoting increased access to affordable transportation for low income households, increased access to social and health services, extending the Leisure Recreation Program to all local regional governments, and developing a Community Access Card for barrier free access to recreation, arts and culture for lower income households throughout the region.

Potter says he is waiting on which ideas gain traction but pointed to one aspect of the plan.

“I think the one-stop shop for health care is the most important baby step,” Potter said. “My main concern is with ‘unothering,’ getting people together enough to see each other as neighbours instead of things (such as) statistics, poor, rich,” he shared.

“A fairly large shift in attention and attitude needs to take place to really include everyone.”

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