Here’s how we can reduce poverty in Calgary

Hopeful. Safe. Resilient. Compassionate. Inclusive. Fair.

These are just a few of the words that people used to describe a Calgary without poverty. Today, city council approved the plan that we believe provides the roadmap to that city. That roadmap represents thousands of hours of thinking and work by hundreds of Calgarians over the past year.

Today is a milestone in our journey, and for Calgary. By adopting the Calgary Poverty Reduction Strategy, Calgary joins many other Canadian cities who are acting in meaningful ways to end poverty in their communities. As a city we can be proud of the commitment we have made to creating a plan to do this and the passion with which we embraced that goal.

But today is just the beginning.

After today, the real work begins to make our plan and our vision for a poverty-free Calgary a reality.

The Calgary Poverty Reduction Strategy is based on our belief in the power of community. If poverty is to be ended, we will need to re-imagine our city and embed our values of community in how we do business and provide services, but most importantly in how we relate to each other as neighbours and citizens.

It will require us to see each other in a new way, and to recognize that our neighbour’s strength is our strength.

In the new Calgary that we imagine:

  • Everyone has a network of people they can rely on for support when they need it.
  • Calgary has the best jobs in the country, and nobody who’s working lives in poverty.
  • All Calgarians have a cushion of savings and less financial stress.
  • Services are easily available and everyone who needs a service can get it quickly.

Building this new Calgary will require everyone working together. Poverty is a complex problem and it requires coordinated action on many fronts by many different people. Community is not only the solution, but also the means to get there.

What we have learned is that ending poverty is not just about income, and it’s not just about “poor people”; it’s about building a city that is hopeful, safe, resilient, compassionate, inclusive, and fair. When we work together to build that city, we build a city that’s better for everyone; we build a city where there truly is enough for all.

Today is just the beginning. Today we start to build. Today we hope that everyone will join us in this exciting and important work.

—Derek Cook is executive director of the Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative, and Steve Allan and Cathy Williams are its co-chairs.

Want to learn more about this exciting work? Head to the Calgary Poverty Reduction Initiative’s website for more information!