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Editorial: Pockets of poverty in Coquitlam

Census reminds us about income inequality
Food banks help some families make ends meet.

Canada’s latest census shows there is a divide in the Tri-Cities and it might not be what you expect.

When it comes to distribution of household income, Port Moody and Port Coquitlam have a lot in common while Coquitlam appears to be the odd city out, with a higher percentage of low-income families compared to the other two cities.

A census tally of median household incomes shows that 17.9% of Coquitlam families have incomes under $30,000 a year compared to 12.8% for PoCo and 11.9% for Port Moody.

In fact, Coquitlam is much closer to the Metro Vancouver median of 19% while its smaller neighbours are much lower.
This finding is of major concern for city councillors, social service agencies and other policy makers because it shows that there are pockets of poverty throughout the region. It may not always be obvious, but some families struggle.

That’s why it’s good news that this region has a strong social network, with good community support for Share Family and Community Services and its food banks, a history of volunteering by individuals and service groups, and a number of initiatives to help refugee families get on their feet in a strange, new land.

Still, there are major concerns on the horizon and one of them is housing affordability. Coquitlam has been able to attract low-income families to areas where there are affordable places to live but those older apartments are likely to be replaced by newer and more expensive condos, displacing families that currently live here.

All three cities need to work together on developing a wide range of housing opportunities, from non-market housing for single, low-income folks to homes that can accommodate families that may be struggling to make ends meet.

It also goes without saying that when groups such as Share ask for help in feeding the hungry that we contribute what we can, whether that be canned and boxed goods, fresh vegetables, cash or even volunteer time.

A complete community is a place where everyone strives to be a good neighbour, no matter what their income.