Thursday, August 28, 2008

Economic troubles leading towards a path of poverty for some

We`re winding down our catching up sessions, with details of how the troubled fishing season has local officials concerned about a growing social issue in the city.

Homelessness and poverty are destined to increase many say, as local workers in the fishing industry come up short for Unemployment Insurance and find it harder and harder to make ends meet over the course of the fall and summer.

The Daily News examined the potential troubles in the Wedensday edition of the paper last week.

Brutal fishing season has council discussing homelessness
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Page three

Homelessness and poverty became central issues at the City of Prince Rupert’s public council meeting on Monday.

A recommendation was tabled for the council to bring the city’s homeless concerns to the next Union of British Columbia Municipalities meeting in September.

Coun. Joy Thorkelsen blamed the season’s poor fishing results for the potential increase in Prince Rupert’s poverty and homelessness.

“I can’t believe what I am saying after what I said in 2006,” Thorkelsen said.

“I said that summer that I have never seen such a bad year in my whole life. Well I guess you start saying those things and someone wants to prove you wrong because this year has been… if it gets any worse we will not open the fishing plant doors.”

Thorkelsen was referring to the poor catch results that saw local commercial fishermen catch only 500,000 salmon out of a potential 2.5 million salmon run. She said that a poor fishing season directly relates to poverty in the city.

“People with 15 year seniority have had four days work this season. How can you work in an industry for 15 years and get four days work? It has been absolutely devastating,” she said.
“Two years ago we had almost no pink salmon. You can only hope when you have a small run that the juveniles do well and unfortunately the juveniles from that run did very poorly.”

Thorkelsen added that she thought council should be discussing homelessness and the impact of people having no money from a poor fishing season.

“As we see apartments going up in rent it’s something we haven’t seen in a long time but we are going to see people having a much more difficult time finding affordable housing, which has not been a problem in our community like everywhere else in the province,” she said.

Currently, there are 343 affordable housing apartments and townhouses in Prince Rupert according to BC Housing. City council feared that might not be enough.

Coun. Tony Briglio agreed and urged city staff to get to work on researching the issue.
“Time is of the essence,” Briglio said.

“We are going to have to get city staff to come up with some report soon. A discussion about the report is needed with the people who are close to the issue.”

Mayor Herb Pond said that he thought a meeting next Thursday with city staff would be the appropriate date to begin discussions on the issues that surround homelessness and affordable housing in Prince Rupert.

He said if the city wanted results from senior levels of government it had better be prepared for the UBCM.

“My experience with the province is if you just simply bring them problems they will wish you a nice day.

“It might be nice to have some strategy and research for the UBCM with some real clarity we think the issue is,” Pond said.

The city meets with other municipalities at the UBCM convention on September 22 in Penticton.

No comments: