Posted by Amy MacPherson
Wasaga Beach: Before you vote, a real picture
April 30, 2011 8:50 PM
Region: Ontario Topics:
By Amy MacPherson (Wasaga Beach, Ont.)
With the aggrandizement of party leaders and political personalities this election, I have to say we may have let them off the hook regarding the issues themselves.
Essentially, all our cares collaborate to represent one thing: How government translates to the family pocketbook at the end of each week. We have our ideals addressing foreign aid; hopes to find a party that can translate policy into real jobs; forethought to protect our army and additional worry for staples like health care, child care and education. In the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs however, these are all secondary and dependent upon a family’s ability to carry the burden of fulfilling these goals.
On the frontlines and amongst social service advocates, we’re painfully aware of the gap between rich and poor. We’ve been watching this unfold and don’t need to hear from statistics to endorse our beliefs. The pictures I’d like to share with you are inspired by the families I help through Wasaga Cares (community resource) and demonstrate their story beyond any thousand words I could choose.
The only context I’d like to offer is that Wasaga Beach doesn’t offer much in the way of affordable housing. Our working poor live in little boxes and many are forced to take up residence in cottages throughout the winter. The lowest rent for any of the properties I’ve photographed is $650 per month, which is well above the maximum income for a single person on welfare. To compound their woes, we have a 0.9 per cent rental vacancy rate in our area and 25 per cent of our population is now surviving on the food bank.
And then, there’s the middle class, which should be better insulated better from the recession. Their homes have appeared for sale in pairs as neighbours come to terms with financial hardship. When we speak about the gap between rich and poor, this is exactly the group we’re talking about – although 7,000 sq. ft. mansions are abandoned just the same. What you won’t see in the photographs are rows and rows of election signs. There may be one or two noting property forfeiture, but not anyone praising a politician.
The Lewis family is one group who’s spent the past few years living in motel. Mike counts his blessings saying, “I’m just lucky to have a position that helps me pay the rent.” He’s the property manager for Bay Breezes and estimates fifteen families live there permanently. Remaining units are rented out to passersby and tourists.