Poverty was one of the top three priorities identified by a community survey carried out by the Nelson Social Planning Action Network Society (SPAN) in 2013. Working to create a poverty reduction plan, SPAN recognised that poverty is a complex issue and can’t be solved by an individual, one group or a single agency. For a project such as this to be successful, commitment and involvement is required from all sectors of our community, including those with lived experience of poverty. As a result, a 12-person multi-sectoral Project Steering Committee has been formed to guide the direction of this project.

Over the past 6 months, 30 community conversations have been carried out with a range of community members and stakeholders. These conversations focused on identifying Nelson’s strengths, visioning what the city could look like in 2025, and beginning to ascertain the practical steps that will take us there.


Nelson is a great place to live, but there is room for improvement. Right now, not everyone is able to meet their basic needs in life. Poverty is forcing many residents to make difficult economic choices between rent and medicine, food and transportation, childcare and employment opportunities. On a daily basis, people are prevented from moving towards a self-sufficient future by the challenges of just getting through today.

Living in poverty limits people’s ability to participate in community life, increasing social exclusion and feelings of isolation. It harms our physical and mental health and well-being, and this in turn hurts our local businesses and wider community health.


Our aim is to help residents, businesses and community leaders develop a long-term strategy to reduce poverty and make our community the best place it can be. In order to create significant and long lasting change in the number of people living in poverty in Nelson, we need to engage the whole community and share our resources collectively.

We can reduce poverty in Nelson. But to do so, we all need to be involved in developing the solutions.

WHAT DOES “Nelson at its Best” MEAN?

  • Good Health

    The main factor affecting the health of Canadians is their income, so by reducing poverty, the health of our community will improve.

  • Safe & Affordable Housing for Everyone

    As well as providing stable accommodation that every individual should have access to, this will in turn improve people’s health by reducing the instance of mental illness and chronic diseases, unplanned pregnancies and alcohol and drug use.

  • No People Going Hungry

    Everybody should be able to eat fresh and healthy food. Not having sufficient nutritious food is associated with lower quality health, depression and mental health problems, and chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

  • Healthy Children

    Children born into poverty are more likely to have low birth weight, slower development, problems with behaviour, and poorer health as adults. An investment in their health at a young age will make a difference for generations to come.

  • Less Stress & Fewer Mental Health Problems

    Living in poverty can result in higher occurrences of depression, anxiety and other mental health problems. Tackling the cause behind these issues can help improve recovery and prevent these issues from occurring.

  • Stronger Local Businesses

    Living in poverty creates daily stress around the issues of spending money. As people’s income increases, they have more money available to invest in their local community, which in turn strengthens the local economy.

  • A More Productive Workforce

    Better physical and mental health is associated with reduced employee turnover, improved competitiveness and greater profits for businesses.

  • Less Crime

    A lower crime rate means less money is needed for criminal justice issues and more can be invested in the community.

  • Educated Residents

    Access to education for both youth and adults creates options for better and more stable employment, and a greater sense of control over their lives.


We can reduce poverty in Nelson.

But to do so, we all need to be involved in developing the solutions.