The fight against poverty is one worth waging. (News Bulletin file)

The fight against poverty is one worth waging. (News Bulletin file)

Editorial: We must continue the battle against poverty in Cowichan

Doing nothing guarantees that nothing will change

Even if it might not work, we still have to try.

North Cowichan council had to decide recently if the municipality was going to support a grant application from the region to help reduce poverty.

We were surprised that anyone would vote against such a thing. Surely the desire to reduce poverty in the Cowichan Valley is a value that everyone can agree is a good thing?

After all, poverty in our communities affects us all. We see it in people sleeping out in tents, people going hungry, people unable to pay their bills. Prosperity is good for everyone. It supports businesses and organizations, and to a degree even determines how happy we are as a group (research has shown that people who make up to a moderate amount of money are happier than those in poverty, though actual wealth doesn’t automatically confer any greater happiness after a certain point).

So what’s not to like if we can get some money from the Union of B.C. Municipalities to come up with a poverty reduction plan, and implement that plan?

Councillor Tek Manhas, however, did vote against supporting the grant application, saying that in spite of other money the region has gotten for this file, poverty continues to be a problem, one that he feels is getting worse. He said he doesn’t believe the new money will solve the problems, and he is equally skeptical that forming a new organizational structure to fight poverty will do anything.

He is, of course, correct that poverty continues to be a problem, and that a single grant won’t fix it.

But that’s a terrible reason not to do anything. Doing nothing guarantees that nothing will change, except for the worse, while trying new things at least holds out the possibility of moving towards solutions.

Poverty is a complex problem that will not be solved overnight. There is no single fix. Contributing factors include a lack of affordable housing, jobs, low wages, education, mental health and addiction issues and many more.

So we need to apply for every grant from every level of government and every organization to try to put a dent in the poverty in Cowichan. We’ve got to take a look at the societal structures that have created the poverty around us.

We’ve got to continually try new ideas. Some of them won’t work, some of them will. We have to keep in mind that it’s a goal worth fighting for. Giving up just insures defeat.