Revelstoke conference looks at economics of poverty reduction

The economics of poverty reduction will be front and centre at a regional conference in Revelstoke this week.

Poverty reduction was the subject of a recent visit to Revelstoke by MLA Jackie Tegart (right).

The economics of poverty reduction will be front and centre at a regional economic conference in Revelstoke this week.

Revelstoke Community Futures is hosting the Columbia–Kootenay–Boundary Regional Community Economic Development Forum at the Hillcrest Hotel this Wednesday and Thursday, May 18–19.

The forum will feature several guest speakers and more than 50 people involved with economic development from around the region are expected to attend.

“We’re looking at poverty reduction as an economic issue as opposed to it being a social issue,” said Kevin Dorrius, the general manager of Community Futures Revelstoke. “That’s in line with a growing trend within business and economic development as a whole, which is the effect of economic development on social issues.”

The speakers list includes Mark Holmgren, the director of Vibrant Communities Canada for the Tamarack Institute. He will give a presentation at the forum on Wednesday morning about the socio-economic benefits of poverty reduction, and strategies of improving the financial and social situations of those living in poverty.

That evening, at 7 p.m., he will give a free talk at the community centre about success stories from around Canada on reducing poverty and the associated government costs of dealing with it.

Other speakers include Brian Smith, the executive director of Community Futures Sunshine Coast. He will talk about social finance and impact investing, fields that have the potential to support growth and developed for marginalized populations.

On Thursday, a team of researchers from UBC Okanagan will talk about their research into the impacts of implementing a living wage in Revelstoke. Later, Catherine Ludgate from the Vancity Credit Union, will talk about the experience of certified living wage employers.

Thursday’s session will conclude with a Revelstoke employer panel, where several local businesses, including Downie Timber, Universal Footwear and La Baguette, will talk about their strategies to fairly compensate their employees.

“There is a return of investment when you do invest in your staff and try to go beyond what the minimum standards are,” said Dorrius. “Why they do it and what return they do get.”

Dorrius said the conference is important because of the affordability issues in Revelstoke.

“The resort development has done great things for diversifying our economy and stimulating economic development, but its also driven the whole affordability issue around housing prices and so forth,” he said.

He hopes business owners and people in economic development will come away from the conference looking at wages in a different way.

“Wages and staffing has always been looked at as, ‘What I can afford to pay?’ as opposed to looking at what my people need to earn to be fully participatory in the community,” he said.

For more information about the conference, visit the Community Futures Revelstoke website.