End Poverty Initiative

Since forming, the End Poverty Initiative has undertaken community education and advocacy for an end to poverty by interacting directly with people living in poverty and/or working with other groups addressing aspects of poverty in community. It has worked to end poverty by better understanding the specific causes and consequences of poverty for people in Nelson, then using this knowledge to directly assist those living in poverty by reaching out to community with simple, responsive and relatively inexpensive opportunities to mitigate, reduce, prevent, and ultimately end poverty in Nelson.

Current Projects:

Nelson Tax Help Project

The 2024 tax season is over, and the Nelson Tax Help Clinic has helped just over 100 low-income earners in Nelson and area file their taxes in a free, quick, and easily accessible way!

Filing federal and provincial income taxes is one of the best poverty reduction strategies. Tax filing not only puts money back in people’s pockets, which in turn circulates in the local economy, but it also allows people to qualify for important federal and provincial benefits and credits, such as affordable childcare subsidies, family dental benefits, Disability tax credits, OAS, CPP, etc.

The Nelson Tax Help Clinic piloted an enhanced Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) in Nelson and area with the full support of the Canada Revenue Agency. We were able help those with household incomes that aligned with the local living wage, those with self-employment income, and those who had years of back taxes to pay.

During March and April 2024, 101 people enrolled in the tax clinic and 164 tax returns were filed. A total of $82,446 in refunds was returned to individuals while $7,394 was owed, leaving a net economic benefit to participants, and the local economy, of just over $75,000!

A Guide to Setting Up an Enhanced Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, including recommendations from this Pilot, was prepared and has been posted to this website as a way to encourage other communities in the Columbia Basin region to replicate this very effective poverty reduction strategy in their communities.

Download the Guide here.

Loonies and $ense Project

Raising people out of poverty requires financial education. Opportunities that support sustainable livelihoods through education and skill building was one of five ‘pathways to change’ identified in Together Nelson’s Community Action Strategy to Reduce Poverty (2022-2026). In 2022, informed by a Community Voices Advisory Group, the Together Nelson Leadership Roundtable (LRT) collaboratively identified financial literacy as a priority action. The Kootenay Career Development Society stepped up as lead service delivery partner and the “Loonies and $ense” financial empowerment program was launched, with the explicit goal of raising people out of poverty.

Together Nelson: A 4-Year Action Strategy to End Poverty

Nelson is a great place to live.  But not everyone is thriving in our community.  Close to 2,000 community members live in poverty in Nelson – friends and neighbours – children, youth, adults and seniors.

Together Nelson is a community-based initiative launched in the fall of 2020 to better understand local poverty in order to create a four-year Action Plan to reduce poverty in Nelson. This initiative will be identifying tangible, measurable actions that will help stop people from falling into, and that lift people out of, the river of poverty.

Project History:

Voices for Change, 2018-2020

In 2018, Voices for Change, a two-year, three-part, poverty reduction project funded by Columbia Basin Trust was launched.  This project piloted three initiatives to support specific demographic groups at a higher risk of experiencing poverty:

  • Community Café’s (aimed at low income children and families)
  • Benefits Incubator (aimed at adult low wage earners)
  • Financial Literacy Youth Skills Builder (aimed at low income youth)

Learn more & read the full summary report >>


Artists and Poverty Forum, 2017

Over 150 community members shared stories of their personal experience of living in poverty. In addition, over 150 people attended an artistic exhibition and performance where the words of those with experiences of poverty were transformed into works of dance, painting, poetry and audio installation.


Business Roundtable on  ‘Supporting Lower Income Employees’, 2017

Local business owners considered how they might assist low-income workers to mitigate poverty. The event generated considerable interest providing opportunity for follow-up to encourage more businesses to adopt similar innovative strategies.


Voices of Lived Experience Project, 2017

The project built relationships, mentored, gave voice to, and acted on the first-hand experience of poverty while putting money and resources into the hands of people living in, or vulnerable to poverty.


Nelson Poverty Reduction Strategy, 2016

The strategy highlights priorities and approaches to be adopted in implementing poverty-reducing initiatives.
Read more: Nelson Poverty Reduction Strategy >>


Data Gathering/Living Wage Project, 2015

Using available Tax Filer data, the poverty rate for Nelson was calculated at 19.4%. The Living Wage was calculated for Nelson using the Market Basket Measure as being $18.21/hr.
View: 2010 / 2011 Tax-filer Data Report >>


Kitchen Table Conversations Project and Poverty Summit, 2014 – 2015

Community members were engaged (with and without experience of poverty) as to their thoughts on the definition and causes of poverty, its consequences, and how these might be reduced or eliminated.

Explore more information about poverty in Nelson, British Columbia and
the work + impact of this initiative since its inception:

Nelson at its Best is a community-based multi-sector initiative aimed at strengthening quality of life & community well-being in Nelson BC.