New Westminster — The City of New Westminster wishes to acknowledge the significant contributions of the many organizations and individuals who have come together to support our residents, especially our most vulnerable, during this unprecedented time. One year after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are humbled by the donation of funds and goods, contributions of time, and the collaboration and partnership that has been demonstrated.
After the Province declared a Public Health Emergency in March 2020, City Council, in response, approved the scope of five working groups (later expanded to seven and referred to as task forces), including one to address the needs of at-risk and vulnerable populations and one to address the needs of seniors and persons living with disabilities. The two task forces, which are still operational today, include representation from over 20 faith-based and non-profit organizations. Additionally, the New Westminster Homelessness Coalition Society has played a key role in coordinating services and the New Westminster Inter-Ministerial Association has mobilized venues and volunteers.
“The faith-based and non-profit sector responded to the challenge, and with City staff, developed a range of supports to meet the needs of our most vulnerable who have been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic,” said Mayor Jonathan X. Coté. “Foundation and senior government funding was also instrumental in supporting our local response. We are incredibly proud of how our community has mobilized with compassion and kindness and we extend our heartfelt thanks to all who have contributed.”
The collective effort has accomplished much, including:
- supporting five food security and resource hubs that are feeding upwards of 750 residents per week;
- offering friendly support calls, including health checks, to frail and isolated seniors;
- providing laundry and shower programs for those experiencing homelessness;
- enhancing sanitation through the provision of portable toilets;
- facilitating access to warm clothing and other essentials through drop-in centres and programs.
“Foundation and senior government funding has enabled us to expand food security programming throughout the city, enabling us to meet needs where people live and offering support and hope to get through this pandemic,” said Betina Wheeler, Coordinator, New Westminster Homelessness Coalition Society. “We want to make sure that nobody goes hungry as a result of this pandemic, and that we build a solid foundation for supporting people after it.”
The Federal Government’s Reaching Home Program has contributed $197,000, the Vancouver Foundation has contributed $100,000, the United Way Lower Mainland contributed $166,150 and the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society has contributed a significant amount of food and appliances through the Community Agency Partnership Program. The City has also contributed $100,000 to the New West Rent Bank Program, enabling it to respond to increased demand resulting from the pandemic, and will be contributing $90,000 to enhance outreach and referral services for those who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness.
Learn more about the various initiatives, services and programs that have been established because of these contributions on the City website.