​The Movin' On Up Cowichan Lake Poverty Reduction project aims to create a local Poverty Reduction Strategy based on community input.

Familiar stories tell the tale of poverty at Lake Cowichan

The Movin’ On Up, Cowichan Lake Poverty Reduction group has completed its community input sessions

The Movin’ On Up, Cowichan Lake Poverty Reduction group has completed its community input sessions and has released a summary of the findings.

The big picture result: the community needs, and is willing, to work together on a solution to localized poverty.

The Movin’ On Up project is a working group made up of community partners working together to gather ideas from area residents, then creating a poverty reduction strategy. The first part of the project was getting input from the community.

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The stories gathered of people living in poverty in the Lake Cowichan area were familiar:

• A senior who is living on a fixed income feels isolated because they can’t visit friends when the community bus service doesn’t run frequently enough.

• A young person who has moved away from home, works full-time at a minimum wage job but can only find a room in a house with mould.

• A single parent has to work multiple jobs so their kids can participate in extracurricular activities.

There were many more.

In addition to hearing people’s circumstances, the community input also included solutions.

“We were not surprised that the community had lots of ideas about things that can be done here at home,” said Lake Cowichan Mayor Bob Day. “We know that everyone in our community has something to contribute. From schools working with the food bank to grow community gardens, to residents working with service clubs to create an old-fashioned ‘barn-raising’ program of neighbours helping neighbours, we hope that everyone will see or suggest something they can get involved in.”

Affordable housing, low local employment and education opportunities, limited public transporation and access to health care and mental health services, poor living conditions and food insecurity were among the top themes. The community input also gathered ideas to solve those massive issues for the benefit of all.

“The key takeaways were the situations that were unique to Lake Cowichan versus an overarching provincial or federal [issue],” said Rosalie Sawrie, project director for Social Planning Cowichan. “That’s the focus of the plan: to see what we can do locally to improve community cohesion and getting the community supporting each other.”

Sawrie said that even before the pandemic people felt isolated, but thanks to COVID-19, people feel that even more.

The community input results show the importance of bringing community together and what the impact of that could be. Sawrie said there are people who need the help but there are also many others willing to lend a hand.

In June 2020, the Town of Lake Cowichan got provincial funding through the Union of B.C. Municipalities to develop a Poverty Reduction Strategy for the Cowichan Lake area in collaboration with Social Planning Cowichan. This work is the result of that grant.

The Movin’ On Up, Cowichan Lake Poverty Reduction project details, including the community input results, can be found at https://www.movinonupcowichanlake.ca/

A new survey geared at getting public feedback on the results of the summary is posted on that website until July 4.



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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