Edson Town Council passes on poverty reduction strategy
By Paul GrigaitisTown council defeated a motion to support, in principle, a strategy to reduce poverty in Alberta during its regular meeting on Feb. 28. A report titled Poverty Costs, published by a number of anti-poverty groups, states that poverty costs the province between $7.1 billion and $9.5 billion per year and calls on the provincial government to launch a comprehensive and accountable poverty strategy aimed at reducing, and ultimately ending poverty in Alberta.The town was asked to support the report’s open letter to the premier calling for a preventative poverty reduction strategy in Alberta.A motion was tabled at last week’s council meeting following a recommendation from the Edson and District Community Services Board to support the strategy in principle, but the motion was defeated following a fifteen-minute discussion on the matter.Coun. Louise Connolly, a member on the community services board, spoke in support of the strategy.“They are not asking the town to put money into it,” she said.It would only require the town’s name to appear on a list of signatories, Connolly said. But Coun. Brian Boyce expressed concern that support of the strategy might come with some kind of commitment down the road. He stressed that he is concerned about poverty in the province but said the tone of the report did not sit well with him and argued that the strategy does not really address the problem, but rather pushes the responsibility onto others.“I am not going to support this as it stands,” Boyce said.In response, Connolly stressed that the motion does not permit a financial commitment, but merely supports the strategy in principle. The town has supported proposals for local recreation projects in principle, but did provide any financial commitment for those projects in its 2012 budget, she noted. She later stated that the matter of poverty is best addressed under a partnership.“When you do things in isolation when it comes to poverty…all you are doing is putting a band-aid here and a band-aid there,” she said.Coun. Kevin Zahara said he had no concerns with the document.“I have no concerns with signing on to this strategy and showing our support to reduce poverty in this province because one way or the other we are paying for it either through policing or through other costs,” he said.But the motion was defeated following a recorded vote. Only Connolly and Zahara voted in support of the motion. Councillors Jim Gomuwka and Tammy Strang did not vote because they were both absent from last week’s meeting.By Paul GrigaitisThis article was published in the Edson Leader on March 5, 2012. Read the full article on the Edson Leader website.