Cowichan Valley struggles with income inequality, contaminated water

Who lives in the Cowichan Valley? Where do we live or work? Are we hungry? How long do we live?

Who lives in the Cowichan Valley? Where do we live or work? Are we hungry? How long do we live?

Social Planning Cowichan has pretended the Cowichan Valley was a village of 100 people and used that idea to present a lot of information in a single graphic.

According to project coordinator Kathleen Heggie, it’s an ongoing process that needs regular updates.

“We’ve been gathering that information over time. It’s a part of our Community Snapshots program. We’ve been doing that reporting for the past few years and updating it as we go along. We get the information from a variety of sources, from StatsCan or BC Stats or other community organizations.”

Some of the most surprising aspects of this year’s findings involve how many people don’t have enough to eat or don’t have clean drinking water, she said.

“That stands out to me. You also see that there’s a big disparity in the income section. That really stands out: it’s huge that one person per 100 has an income greater than $125,000 while 30 are falling below the $30,000 mark. That reflects that we have an income gap here in the Valley.”

The figures also reflect some positive aspects of Valley life, like the education statistics, she said.

“That’s good. We’re trying to paint a picture of what’s here but we don’t want it to be depressing so we’re trying to highlight what’s good as well.”

Upcoming Snapshots will also be presented in a similar colourful way, and “will also include anecdotes from a community outreach so we can tell the story of the Cowichan Valley. It will be informative but also unique and personal, with quotes and stories from people who live here,” Heggie said.