Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Social Housing and poverty issues get review at Monday council session

The themes of Social Housing concerns in the community and issues related to poverty provided for a wide range of discussion and exchange of ideas at Monday's City Council session.

With all of the City's Councillors and the Mayor offering up thoughts on how to approach the twin items, returning to the themes a number of times as various topics came up for discussion through the evening.

The first review of the social issues related to poverty came by way of a consideration of a proclamation request from the Kaien Island Anti Poverty Society, which was asking Council to declare October 17th as International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

The discussion that followed that review, offered up the opportunity for Councillor Joy Thorkelson to recount some of her observations from a recent convention of the union UNIFOR, with Ms. Thorkelson sharing the initiative of the union to seek an increase to the minimum wage across the country, bringing it to 15 dollars an hour.

As part of her discussion on that theme, Councillor Thorkelson touched on some of the issues that the local Unemployed Action Centre has had to deal with in recent months, with a particular focus on housing concerns.

She also called attention to an initiative in Seattle, Washington where that city's government has created its own minimum wage requirement for business and industry within the city limits, a project that Councillor Thorkelson suggested the incoming council of November in Prince Rupert may want to follow closely.

Councillor Ashly reviewed the city's contribution to the recent UBCM convention, where the city's resolution to create a Poverty Reduction Strategy was adopted by the convention.

That portion of the social issue topic can be reviewed from the City's Video Archive from the 20 minute to twenty four minute mark.

A letter from Reverend Jason Haggstrom of the Prince Rupert Ministerial Association also provided opportunity for further discussion on social issues, this time on the theme of housing in the region.

Reverend Haggstrom would like to have the Mayor attend one of the Ministerial Association's sessions to discuss the topic further, something that Mayor Mussallem committed to following up on.

Council members again took quickly to the topic, with Councillors Ashley and Cunningham reviewing their disappointment at the approach that the Province representatives at UBCM took when the two councillors directed their concerns on the issue to the Provincial delegates.

Councillor Kinney offered his concern on the need for more senior's housing in the community, while Councillor Carlick-Pearson reminded council members of the work being done in the area by such groups as the Kaien Island Anti-Poverty Society and the Salvation Army.

The prospect of the City establishing a Housing Commission or Committee was addressed by Councillor Thorkelson, who suggested that City staff make contact with Reverend Haggstrom at that time, offering up the thought that he would be a good representative to such a body if created.

On that theme of the Housing Commission/Committee option, Councillor Garon observed that once the City has it's plan together on the issue, they may find a more helpful approach to the topic from the province.

All of that can be reviewed from the City's Video Archive at the 24 minute mark continuing on until the 32 minute point.

As for the Housing Commission option that Council members kept returning to through the night, City Manager Robert Long provided a short review of a report from the City Planner (see the report here).

That fairly comprehensive account, outlined the results of the recent community Engagement on Housing, with the proposal of a Housing Commission highlighted as one of the three recommendations reviewed from Monday's Agenda (page 25).

A wider overview of that discussion and council's motion of approval regarding it can be found on our City Council Timeline feature.

For more items on developments at Prince Rupert City Council see our archive page here.

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