New Westminster British Columbia
Government of British Columbia
New Westminster, BC, Canada
About My City: New Westminster
New Westminster is centrally located in Metro Vancouver and has a population of about 70,000 people. It was the first city to be incorporated in British Columbia and has built a prosperous economy based on its abundant heritage, diverse population, strategic location on the Fraser River and commitment to social equity principles. New Westminster was the first municipality in Canada to institute a Living Wage Bylaw (2011) and is considered to be a municipal leader in the areas of child care, homelessness, housing affordability and poverty reduction. It has developed a Community Poverty Reduction Strategy (2016) and is committed to improving opportunities and outcomes for people living in poverty and with low-incomes.
About My Organization: Government of British Columbia
The Community Poverty Reduction Initiative began in May 2012 as a partnership between the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM). Through the Community Poverty Reduction Strategy ,MCFD has been working collaboratively with local governments, community partners and the private sector to support the development of community based solutions to poverty and address the specific challenges that families are experiencing .
The initiative was premised on the experience that no one level of government or organization can address a complex issue such as poverty, and that community-based responses have promise as one part of a policy and program repertoire needed to address this issue. The focus of the initiative is to optimize the use of community resources to effectively work with and support families living in poverty and with low incomes. It is a community driven process that brings together existing community resources and encourages innovative ways to address poverty at a local level.
My Collaborative: New Westminster Community Poverty Reduction Committee
The New Westminster Poverty Reduction Committee has a diverse and committed membership which meets on a monthly basis. It includes representatives from the different levels of government and aboriginal, community, faith, settlement and social service organizations. Most representatives work directly with families
living in poverty or with low incomes.
The Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) funds a half-time Family Consultant position and provides a small annual operating budget of $500. The City of New Westminster’s Senior Social Planner is actively involved in all facets of the committee and a Planning Analyst provides statistical support. The City also provides in-kind support such as catering, copying and venue rental. Community partners provide their knowledge, skills and support to further the work of the committee.
The Community Poverty Reduction Committee recently developed a New Westminster Community Poverty Reduction Strategy (October 2016). This strategy, which incorporates a five-year action plan, is based on extensive research and a comprehensive community consultation process, including with those with lived experiences.
The strategy builds on the strong foundation in place in New Westminster and the collaboration and partnerships forged as a result of its development. This is essential in addressing this complex issue and the many barriers faced by families living in poverty and with low incomes.
The strategic actions are grouped according to the following seven areas of focus or pillars:
• Community Poverty Reduction Committee
• Employment, Income and Financial Literacy
• Housing and Shelter
• Information, Services and Support
• Public Awareness, Empowerment and Mobilization
• Social Connectedness and Community Engagement
Strategy/Key Documents: The committee has produced a strategy and a number of related documents, including:
• New Westminster Community Poverty Reduction Strategy (October 2016)
• Conversations with Families Living in Poverty in New Westminster
• New Westminster Community and Social Services Asset Map
• New Westminster Poverty Myth Busters
• New Westminster Poverty Profile
• New Westminster Poverty Reduction Literature Review
• New Westminster Poverty Reduction Needs Assessment and Directional Document