Since the development of the Public Safety Committee, the City of Grand has been actively involved with support for addressing the needs of those most at risk in the community. At their meeting on Monday, May 31 council joined the ranks of over 300 communities and organizations across B.C. calling on the provincial government to create a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy, and went on to provide a grant-in-aid to the committee to form a society whose goals will be to develop a shelter and transition housing.
“As a British Columbians we determine what our post-Olympics legacy will be,” said Councillor Gene Robert. “We want a clear and accountable end to poverty and homelessness in our province. No matter what method is used to measure poverty too many people in our province are struggling to make ends meet. We all know that we pay for poverty, we pay in increased health care costs, we pay in higher crime, and we pay in higher demands on the community’s social and charitable services.
"I would like to encourage council to endorse this plan - let’s go forward and let’s call on the provincial government to finally react to the issue of poverty in our province.”
In early May the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition called on municipalities to take action in support of a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy for the province. They asked individual councils and from the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) to present a united position on poverty reduction. Robert, liaison to the Public Safety Committee, urged city council to do two things:
- review and endorse the open letter as a municipality, “A Call for a BC Poverty Reduction Plan”;
- and to adopt a resolution to submit to the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), before June 30th and in time for this year’s annual convention in fall 2010, that the UBCM urge the province to adopt a comprehensive strategy.
Robert had the complete support of the council for the motion.
The Public Safety Committee is now evolving into a non-profit organization whose goals will be focused on housing for homeless and transition needs in the area. As a part of the grant-in-aid process Grand Forks council approved $3500 to assist the group.
The funds will be used to pay for incorporation costs, for building inspection, and a public forum to be announced. The committee will be incorporating under the new name Boundary Emergency and Transition Housing Society. Robert has taken on the role as secretary to the emerging group.
“We’re moving forward full speed ahead,” said Robert. “We have two goals: we want to create an emergency shelter for men and youth at risk; and to start early primary transitional housing.
Robert said that transitional housing means a temporary place to stay as a person gets themselves organized and able to move on. While the monthly meeting of the Public Safety Committee attracts up to 25 people to their meetings, the new society is starting with a membership of eight directors and the chair of the committee is Kristine Eyre.
Anyone interested in getting more information is invited to contact either Robert or Eyre.