The first thing a lot of people will ask if and when our local government hires a social planner is why not put the money used to pay a salary directly into social programs instead?
And while it is easy to call for action now and avoid paying for more bureaucratic staff and consultants, a social planner is actually key for the implementation of any programs that will benefit the region long term.
When social development consultant Christien Kaaij presented a rough outline of a social action plan at a forum for Powell River Regional District, Tla’amin Nation and City of Powell River on September 21, it was the first official step in a lengthy process to address local issues such as poverty, housing and childhood development.
Up until now, different forms of social planning have been taken on as personal projects by individual City of Powell River councillors because no one at city hall has that portfolio as part of their job description. When councillors leave, often those projects leave with them, unless someone else is willing to pick them up.
It's the age-old problem with municipal politics; just when elected politicians begin to dig into a problem and work toward addressing it, their term is up and past efforts can fall by the wayside.
Hiring a social planner is an ongoing, proactive measure to properly address the problems and implement initiatives that will affect real, ongoing change.
Donating the equivalent of a city salary every year to the food bank or children in poverty will immediately address a much larger problem, and will directly help out residents in need right now, but when those funds run out every year, then what?
We all want action now and to solve our problems right away, but when it comes to the near-crisis level of the social issues Powell River is now facing, in order to address them effectively, we have to be more patient and also plan for the future.
The linchpin in all of this is whoever local government hires as a social planner. Also, funding support needs to come from all levels of government.
Let's hope we find those funds and hire the right person for what will undoubtably be an incredibly difficult job.
Jason Schreurs, publisher/editor