A group of researchers predict the economic downturn has left Edmonton’s neighbourhoods in a sickly and continually declining state.
“Until last year, there was steady improvement in the social health of Edmontonians,” said Edmonton Social Planning Committee spokesman John Kolkman.
“Everyone knows starting last fall, things have changed dramatically.”
Tracking the Trends 2009 is a publication penned by the committee, and examines, in depth, levels of education, employment, living costs, housing, income, wealth and poverty.
This year’s publication maps Edmonton’s most “vulnerable” areas to these trends.
North central neighbourhoods are historically those most vulnerable and where people are most often unemployed, but findings conclude many neighbourhoods radiating outward from the downtown core declining in income and employment rates, the group says.
Despite greater vacancy rates, rents are rising, they say, adding although the provincial government made a commitment to end homelessness in 2008, fewer dollars were allocated for affordable housing in this year’s budget.
They say mass job losses and a sharp increase in temporary foreign workers have forced nearly 20 per cent more Edmontonians to turn to social assistance and 40 per cent to the food bank this year.
“The concern that we have is that this (recession) is most negatively impacting the most vulnerable Edmontonians who can least afford it,” Kolkman said.
The findings are intended for citizens, social agencies and levels of government to see clearly the reality of Edmonton’s evolving demographic, he added.
Tracking the Trends charts and maps are available on the group’s website at edmonton