By Rhonda Massad
The Table de Quartier Sud de l’Ouest de l’Île (TQSOI) launched the long awaited Portrait of the Population of the Southern West Island report dispelling myths about wealth on the West Island.
“This is an exciting tool that has been an idea for years, and has been finally realized with this groups of volunteers via the TQSOI,” president of TQSOI, Healther Holmes told The Suburban, “with the hired coordinator through funds we were able to secure from Centraide, DSP and MESS Ville de Montreal.”
TQSOI is a non-profit organization uniting citizens and stakeholders from the community, including institutions, private sector, and politicians in an effort to increase the quality of life on the territory of the Southern West Island which includes seven municipalities: Senneville, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Baie d’Urfé, Beaconsfield, Kirkland, Pointe Claire and Dorval.
According to the report written by Alena Ziuleva of TQSOI, the West Island is one of the richest areas in the province, however the social development needs have not been properly recognized. The data presented shows poverty is hidden all over the territory. More than 8,900 individuals live under the poverty line. More than 6,200 residents live in the most severe social deprivation conditions. In Pointe Claire, Ste. Anne de Bellevue and Dorval, one out of three seniors live alone.
The portrait expresses concern for those who live in poverty and suffer from social exclusion indicating that limited public transit in such a vast territory causes a serious barrier to access food resources, services and programs especially for youth, seniors and others who rely on public transit. More than 90 per cent of the low-income population and almost 85 per cent of the residents have little to no access to fresh fruits and vegetables, within 500 metres of their homes.
The report suggests an increase in social and affordable housing and accommodations for those with special needs to significantly improve the quality of life of the homeless or those at risk of being homeless. High costs of housing rental deters youth from staying in the community resulting in local commerce’s having a difficult time attracting employees as the youth move on.
Another major concern outlined is citizens’ access to health care and social services. According to the report this territory is characterized by one of the lowest number of physicians in the Montreal region. More than 45 per cent of West Islanders say they do not always seek help at their usual source of care for urgent problems.
“Simply put this portrait is the first step in moving our community into a better place,” Holmes explained, “we share this information, gather a common vision, create an action plan on how to improve, then move into implementation.”
More information and an e-copy of the Portrait can be found at www.tqsoi.org
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