The City of Surrey is moving forward with its poverty reduction plan to help the economic status of the estimated 71,000 Surrey residents who live below the poverty line.
The city's social planning committee held its first meeting of the year last Wednesday to look at the first steps of the plan, titled "THIS is How We End Poverty in Surrey."
THIS stands for transportation, housing, income and support.
"A year and a half ago, the social planning committee identified poverty as one of the main issues that they wanted to take some action on," said Coun. Judy Villeneuve, chair of the social planning committee.
"At the same time, Vibrant Surrey, an organization in the city with representatives from various organizations and the business community, had some funding from the McConnell Foundation to look at how to address poverty."
The city partnered with Vibrant Surrey, the Surrey Homelessness & Housing Society and Fraser Health to develop the plan over 18 months. Council accepted the plan in July 2012 and the city is going through the plan's priorities, targeting help for seniors, single parents, new immigrants and workers on minimum wage.
"There's over 100 recommendations coming out of (the plan), some of them short-term, some of them long-term," said Villeneuve, noting that the city is seeking help from the provincial and federal governments.
"We're going to be meeting and distributing those recommendations to different organizations and levels of government that can do something, and then we'll be having a forum in the spring to set some benchmarks and some reporting back."
A yearly income of $19,144 is considered to be the poverty line for a single-person household.
Villeneuve noted that tax breaks, job skills training and easier access to higher education - all initiatives of the plan - have proven to make significant differences in the lives of low-income residents.
Later this year, the city will put together a website that gathers all of the city's anti-poverty services in one place, making it easier for residents to find the resources they need.
"People don't have easy access to get out of that syndrome, so we want to look at ways that we can better deliver that and ensure that new immigrants coming into our city have access from other levels of government of services that will help them get their lives off the ground," said Villeneuve.
To read the poverty reduction plan, visit surrey.ca.