Below the poverty line: NDG-Cote-des-Neiges group seeks concrete solutions to help
An action plan on poverty is being presented to Cote-des-Neiges/NDG borough council Tuesday night with an aim to put concrete measures in place to help those facing poverty.
“Within this are the seeds of something really considerable for the borough to take on if poverty reduction is amongst the priorities that are important to it,” said James Hughes, president of the Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, the volunteer group that came up with the plan.
Some recommendations can be implemented quickly and easily, said Hughes, including new regulations for more and better social housing.
“That costs nothing to the borough to change the regulations around the housing rules and we've proposed a number of recommendations in that area,” he said.
Others are more challenging, such as getting the STM to agree to free zones.
“We've got this recommendation that we pilot a tariff-free zone. So at certain hours, can the borough use its political power to try to persuade the STM to have the buses and metros available without cost?” said Hughes.
Daniel Rotman, executive director of The Depot in NDG, supports the idea.
“I think transportation is a real long-term challenge. People coming to The Depot, for instance, have to pay $3.25 each way to come get a food basket or a meal,” he said.
Rotman said financial struggles are commonplace in the area.
“In NDG alone, 25 per cent of people live below the poverty line. One out of three children lives in a household that is below the poverty line, so it's very present,” he said.
The Roundtable for Poverty Reduction was initiated by former borough mayor Russell Copeman and the plan has taken 18 months to finalize.
Sue Montgomery, the current borough mayor, said she's ready to listen.
“I didn't want another report telling us that there's poverty. We know that. What are we going to do about it? And I told them very clearly that I wanted concrete things that we could do. And I think that they've delivered that,” she said, adding that she’ll go to bat for free transit times.
“I think it is feasible. We just need to speak to the STM and work out how those costs would be covered,” she said. “We are taking steps already. And all you need is the political will to do it, the money is there.”