Recently, I spoke with two women – both divorced, one with two children and the other with none. What started as a conversation about the cost of renting in The County, soon led to a multitude of other related issues.
First, from what I was told, the cost of renting a basic two-bedroom place is approximately $1400/month, plus utilities and cable – easily totaling over $1600 every month! Finding affordable accommodations is an obvious challenge, but even more disturbing was the number of jobs that these two people held down, just to make their rent and to eat.
The woman with the two children worked in a local nursing home and she needs to hold down two other jobs as well – just to make ends meet! The other person told me she held down as many as 4 part time jobs at the same time, but due to her obvious physical limitations, she found it too difficult and now holds down only 3 jobs! Sadly, most of their waking hours are spent working to survive. I wonder how many more County people are in the same situation and what is being done to help them?
It concerns me to know that our Chamber of Commerce does not support a minimum wage of $15/hr. – or to see young farmers receiving property tax breaks due to hardship, but no other young working people receive anything to help them afford accommodation! Why does the Chamber of Commerce receive around $50K in grants from the municipal taxpayers? Or how about our own municipality’s new “volunteer” Affordable Housing Committee, led by a previous councillor and current real estate agent asking for $130,000 to help pay for a “qualified” director?
I would rather see my tax dollars going to those who really need help, but I fear our tax dollars often end up in the wrong pockets.
Last year our council imposed an 8.5 per cent tax increase and this year another 4.6 per cent – do they have any idea of what people in this community have to do just to afford to live here? I really don’t believe they do. If they did, then why is this community still dealing with the same, never ending issues – lack of affordable housing, high water bills, high taxes, the lack of good paying jobs, our expensive over-sized council, or a tourist industry that contributes very little to Shire Hall and tends to employ low paying seasonal labour? We have people in our community that need real help, now! They don’t need empty words from a phony bureaucratic council committee, nor do they want to be visiting the Foodbank or to be devalued by the local business community – they want decent paying jobs and a future for their kids!
While the supposed “movers and shakers” of Prince Edward County continue to believe that all is good – many of our youth will continue to leave to find a future elsewhere. For those who stay – well, they have possibly signed up for a life very similar to the two women I described early – hard working, underpaid and having little opportunity of affording their own home. It doesn’t seem to matter how big the tax increases are – none of what really matters seems to get fixed in Prince Edward County – ever!
And some wonder why our population continues to decline?