West Nipissing considers adding budget line for impoverished

West Nipissing council is undergoing budget deliberations, and one of the topics brought forward involved creating a budget line to help alleviate issues surrounding poverty and homelessness. At this draft stage, the budget line is entitled “poverty initiatives,” with a suggested $10,000 amount attached to it.

“It’s probably a bad term” for the budget line, West Nipissing’s chief administrative officer, Jay Barbeau admitted, noting it might change to something along the lines of “community assistance.” However, the intention of the line remains the same, to set aside “a base amount for council to apply to special initiatives or community safety and well-being projects.”

The fund would be earmarked “to provide assistance” to people in need, which would be a new addition to the municipal budget. Barbeau noted the homelessness issue is becoming “more front and centre” within the region, and this money could help.

See: Sturgeon Falls group formed to help homeless

Many social services within West Nipissing are provided by the District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board, and Barbeau informed council that a representative from DNSSAB will be presenting at town hall on March 21.

Certainly ideas will be shared at that meeting to help curtail homelessness, but any solution “has to be a made-in-West-Nipissing solution” created “with our partners,” Barbeau noted.

Councillor Jamie Restoule agreed the timing was right to consider budgeting these additional funds. He noted “there is some work going on at DNSSAB now” to possibly bring more services to West Nipissing “and we’re trying to see how we can better promote the services” that exist now to people in need.

“We have great partners and great people in our community to learn from,” Barbeau said, adding this $10,000 offers “seed money” to grow social projects.

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca