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Gunter: Edmonton’s poverty eradication goal unattainable

What angered me the most was the arrogance of EPE’s claim that poverty eradication is possible. 1st generation or he is 100th generation.

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It should come as no surprise that End Poverty Edmonton (EPE) turned out to be a mostly useless and costly flop. Unsurprisingly, the city’s official anti-poverty agency hasn’t shown much progress or even organizational strength, given an impossible task with few concrete goals.

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Now, the city council is criticized by a devastating city report that EPE has made little progress against poverty, that there are few ways to measure its success, and that people are connected to first-hand knowledge of poverty and “its There was a lack of clarity and transparency in the governance structure.”

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It was always going to be like that.

Want to know how simple the goals of the EPE were? ), the group’s goal of “eliminating poverty in Edmonton in a generation” is “the political equivalent of a beauty pageant contestant in defense of world peace… an empty, ambitious rhetoric detached from reality.”

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What angered me the most was the arrogance of EPE’s claim that poverty eradication is possible. 1st generation or he is 100th generation.

Poor people have lived here since the first human civilizations emerged in the Fertile Crescent 6,000 years ago. Therefore, efforts have been made to alleviate poverty for about 5,999 years. Some have worked better than others, but no one has completely eliminated poverty.

Yet somehow, then-Mayor of Edmonton Don Iveson and then-Bishop of the Anglican Church of Edmonton Jane Alexander co-chaired the Mayor’s Task Force on Poverty Eradication. Every year I was acting as if I had stumbled upon some kind of magic formula. Other poverty reduction campaigns in history have failed.

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A homeless camp in Chinatown, Edmonton, June 1, 2022.
A homeless camp in Chinatown, Edmonton, June 1, 2022. Photo by Larry Wong /post media, file

It was sheer conceit. (As the city’s Vision Zero claims, all fatal and serious injury car accidents could be eliminated if we all just drove really slowly.)

When Iveson’s task force claimed that poverty could be eradicated within a generation, we knew EPE would fail because the goal would not be met. No matter how good the job is, the city will never be zero.

To make matters worse, the agency is a kind of cumbaya organization. We do not lead poverty eradication efforts or fund frontline charities or community groups. Rather, EPE calls itself a ‘broker’. Bringing together social services, charities, the private sector and bureaucracy, we are trying to find ways that these different groups can coordinate their efforts.

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EPE has a highly paid executive director and is all-inclusive just like a real agency.

EPE is said to have made a few changes since an internal report on the terrible city last fall.

The group’s executive director, Erick Ambtman, says they are moving toward becoming more of an advocacy group. In that sense, one of his first actions was to rally with the NDP to demand more local budgets to deal with the homeless.

As if what was needed to fight poverty was another group complaining that the government wasn’t spending enough taxpayer money.

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Ambtman also asks EPE to create a new framework and give it a few more years to implement it. And EPE reassured, “He continues to win regularly, and I think he can really turn heads in the next year or two.”

It sounds all over the world like a troubled gambler nearing a foreclosure, but the next trade, the next roll of the dice, the next pull of the handle, the next lottery ticket will undo all your losses. Continue to bring and reassure yourself.

The council would be wise to stop funding EPE and put the money into concrete efforts to clean up downtown.

lgunter@postmedia.com

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Gunter: Edmonton’s poverty eradication goal unattainable

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