We live in a great community. But we can’t get complacent and start to think that everything is going great for everyone.
The Village of 100 snapshot from Social Planning Cowichan that we published in our Wednesday edition gives us a lot of interesting, and sometimes sobering, information in one quick look.
Some things were troubling.
The employment box, for instance tells us that just more than 60 per cent of people in the Valley are working, in any capacity. Some of that is only part-time. While children and seniors who have retired make up a chunk of that remaining approximately 30 per cent, that still leaves many people without work.
Employment is a big deal because it impacts a lot of other areas of life. Money that one earns through work pays for a roof over our heads, food on the table, and clothing on our backs.
The more people with work, the better.
The Income box was also interesting, noting as it did that a huge proportion of people living in Cowichan are subsisting on less than $30,000 per year, while a small proportion are doing very well for themselves.
It’s noteworthy that those with an income greater than $125,000 worked out to exactly one per cent. One cannot help but think of the 99 per cent movements that swept through the U.S. and Canada a couple of years ago, and still resonate today. Their basis was to protest the concentration of the vast majority of our nations’ wealth in the hands of just a small elite — one per cent.
Of course, that movement wasn’t talking about people who made a mere $125,000 per year — they were talking millions, even billions of dollars.
But our one per cent is still worth a look, particularly when considered against the 30 per cent struggling to make ends meet. Twenty-six per cent of Valley residents are spending more than 30 per cent of their income on housing alone. It’s a clear indication of just how unaffordable life is for many.
It’s also interesting to see what a car-dependent community we are, with 51 per cent of us driving to work. That’s a lot of cars on the road. We are a long way from a green transportation hub.
It’s also pretty shocking that in 2016 a full three per cent of people don’t have enough food to eat, while four per cent don’t have clean water.
What needs to happen is that we take this information and use it to improve people’s lives — the lives of our friends and neighbours.
These issues won’t be solved overnight. Some will need to be addressed in conjunction with various levels of government.
But having the information is a good start.