EDMONTON – Although Edmonton’s economy is booming, poverty impacts thousands of people in the city. And on Thursday, Mayor Don Iveson outlined his vision to put an end to the issue.
“Our thinking needs to change. Right now we’re just managing poverty like a problem, rather than thinking about strategically changing things,” Iveson said at a symposium at the Shaw Conference Centre Thursday morning.
The city says there are more than 100,000 Edmontonians living under the poverty level, nearly 30,000 of whom are children.
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“For me, that is not acceptable,” said Iveson.
Iveson has formed a task force focused on the issue. His goal as co-chair is to see it gone within a generation.
“We have many brilliant, forward-thinking minds in our city,” he said. “By drawing from this vast knowledge and learning from people who have experience with poverty, I believe the members of this task force can find innovative solutions to empower Edmontonians and close the door on poverty.”
“Unless you set a bold goal then you just make do,” added fellow co-chair Bishop Jane Alexander. “With the incredible resources we have in Edmonton we could actually transform the nature of how we think about poverty, its existence, and do something quite extraordinary. But you have to have a bold enough vision that uses a word like elimination.”
The task force will be made up of 18 community advocates, academics and business leaders.
Julian Daly, the executive director of Boyle Street Community Services, says he would like to see the task force come up with recommendations on three key areas: racism, mental health and addiction services, and affordable housing options.
“If we can begin to address those, I think we can begin to take large numbers of the poorest of the poor in our city out of poverty,” added Daly.
The creation of the task force comes as the city continues to work on its 10-year plan to end homelessness.
“If we actually want to — not just eliminate homelessness — but prevent new people from falling into homelessness, you have to start talking about poverty reduction and poverty elimination,” explained Iveson.
A series of recommendations on the issue of poverty in Edmonton is expected by this time next year.
For more information on poverty in Edmonton, visit the city’s website.
With files from Vinesh Pratap, Global News.