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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Affordable Housing?

Was reading this story from the Bulletin City eyes row housing option thinking great this could be another means of creating affordable housing in the city. Reading on I found that in Langford some of these homes are as small as 400sq. ft. good enough for a single person or possibly a couple, but a family likely not. In Langford the cost of these homes, meer inches from each other, would begin at $199,000. Councillor Holdom says he worries about maintenance costs of homes so close together, me I would worry about safety in the event of a fire. One would hope there would be some kind of regulation to amend this concern.

Getting back to the affordability; my question is affordable for whom? With no money down a person would be looking, even with interest rates being as low as they are, at roughly $1200.00 a month. When you add phone, hydro, insurance, etc you would be looking at a minimum of $1600.00 per month. If a person were to make $12.00 an hour every cent earned would go to pay for the mortgage and bills. If one looks at over %30 of income towards housing as an indicator of poverty this person would be destitute. To afford payments like these one would have to be making over $20.00 an hour or at least have a combined income of such. So again one would have to ask, in this economic climate and even in better times, affordable to whom.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Poverty, Rising Unemployment and Cuts to School Meal programs

The links below are to a few stories that have been in the Daily News of late.

I am convinced that Nanaimo is the best place to live in BC but it has always had high levels of unemployment and poverty. Part of this is the high number of part time jobs, almost half the jobs in Nanaimo, large proportion of single parent families and growing numbers of seniors living in the community. What once was a resource based economy with decent wages, has moved to more of a service based economy with lower paying jobs and part time positions.

For a number of years the economy was doing well but a result was increased property values, a shrinking rental market and increased rents for what little was available. One standard when looking at determinants of poverty is paying more than 30% of ones income towards shelter. Approximately 53 percent of renters in Nanaimo, as well as many low-income homeowners in Nanaimo, are paying far more than 30 percent of their income towards rent. When you look at those on income assistanc and pensions that percentage rises to more than 50% of their income going towards shelter.

With the economy spirally ever downwards we have seen major businesses, as well as smaller business, shut their doors. The results have been huge numbers of people applying for both Employment insurance and Income Assistance. Food Bank and other free meal service use has skyrocketed. Through it all the commitment of volunteerism and donations to services has not waned, another reason that this is such a great community, its people. I am still convinced this is the best place to live and my commitment to making it even better has not waned.

Empty coffer, hungry kid: Funding cut for school meal programs Published: Thursday, June 25, 2009

While harsh I believe my comment below, I love the comment option on the interweb version of the Daily New, is appropriate. Check out the strory for comments from others.

"This is just another slap in the face of those least able to make ends meet in our disintegrating economy. The two most important things to move families and individuals forward are safe affordable housing and access to food. Many families and individuals rely on food programs in the schools, and in the community, so they can afford the exorbitant rents caused by the past economic boom. Cuts forced on the school district by gluttonous members of government will no doubt result in BC maintaining the highest child poverty rates in the country. When the government returns from its extended paid vacation and if they propose another excessive raise in pay they should be taken out by the citizenry, tarred and feathered."

Unemployment lines grow longer Published: Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Vacancies are up, but so are rents Published: Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Welfare rolls jump again Published: Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The following was submitted as a letter to the editor today and could apply to all of the above though I wrote it in response to the first story.

To the Editor;
Poverty is not a choice but an unfortunate reality for many in Nanaimo and British Columbia . Food Bank and Community meal program use is rising at such a rate that many programs are being overwhelmed and with little government funding are being forced to rely more and more on the very communities and people affected by government policy and the economic downturn.

Whether 30, 50, 80 or 180, those students who relied on meal programs in schools, funded through Community Link, will be adversely affected. There can be no doubt that losing access to meal programs of any kind will put added strain on families already stretched to the very limit of meeting just the basic needs of food and housing. Nanaimo is seeing huge increases in the numbers of people having to apply for income assistance and employment insurance, a fact that is likely to get worse as more businesses lay off employees in order to survive or simply close their doors because they can’t.

With the dubious distinction of the highest Child Poverty rate in Canada 6 consecutive years from 2002 - 2007, my guess that 2008 will surely be the 7th, decisions like the School District of Nanaimo will no doubt nudge BC towards its seventh consecutive year. It is high time the Liberal Government started providing adequate funding to school districts as well as increasing the minimum wage to at least allow peoples income to rise above the poverty line. The government of BC should be ashamed of a track record that has simply furthered the widening gap between the financially able and financially challenged.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

This should be it re Empire

The posts to the Daily News below will likely be the last on this subject.

Just to re-iterate, no one who spoke against the name of EMPIRE wants to see the parade and other events cancelled but simply(yes it would be simple) the name changed to be a more positive reflection of the many cultures, especially first nations, who have contributed to the History of Nanaimo.

No one denies the extreme amount of volunteer commitment needed to put on the parade, in fact the Lions Society not only helps with this but does so much more throughout the year for the betterment of our society.

As for the parade, I personally thought it was not up to the former standards which I have seen in the past. Seemed to be less floats and bands and far shorter than usual. My opinion.

No place for antiquated 'Empire Days' namesake Published: Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Empire Days society is grateful for all support Published: Saturday, June 20, 2009

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Empired Out

The two letters below are from the Bulletin, one from June 4th. This has been the most published feedback on the subject of Empire Days ever and whether positive, from my point of view, or negative it has been worth while discussion. My favourite, perhaps this one was not so worthwhile, was the letter that stated Simon Schachner and I were Professional Activists. Golly gee, if I could get paid for this does that mean I can quit my day job?

Perhaps even better was a phone message I received one day, have kept it for posterity. It went like this; Are you the activist that is trying to destroy Nanaimo's heritage by eliminating(pregnant pause) Empire Days? Well if so why don't you get your life together, get your act together, and get a fucking job. Guess if I was to quit my job he might actually have something.

Anyway through discussion comes change and while it may seem slow it is in the longrun inevitable.

From the Bulletin:

Nothing shameful about our history published June 4, 2009
(This comes in a three pack and is the third letter down, a good one re homelessness 2nd down as well)

Colonizers took land Published: May 29, 2009