Early next year West Kelowna may be able to offer more access to shelter for those in need.
On Friday, the City of West Kelowna and the province, through BC Housing, identified a site for a new temporary winter shelter which will help those experiencing homelessness.
The new shelter will be located at 1160 Stevens Rd. and operated by the West Kelowna Shelter Society (WKSS). It will provide 40 more people experiencing homelessness with a safe, warm place during the coldest months of the year.
The announcement comes after the City of Kelowna’s decided to move the Leon Avenue homeless camp to Kelowna’s north end, setting up camps at both Knox Mountain and on Recreation Avenue next to the Kelowna Curling Club.
The relocation is a cause of concern for many residents who have even gone as far as protesting the relocation. The homeless are also unhappy because their new location forces them to pack up and leave the fenced-in site every morning.
On Saturday morning, residents of the Knox Mountain neighborhood and other residents of the north end met to discuss what action they should take to change the way homeless people are being handled and to petition against the city’s decision to relocate them.
Given the urgent need for shelter in West Kelowna, BC Housing intends to submit a temporary use permit application to the City of West Kelowna on Dec. 10. If approved, the shelter is anticipated to open between early January and end of March 2020.
The intake process would prioritize West Kelowna residents. According to the 2018 Point in Time Homeless Count, 72 people were identified as experiencing homelessness in the City of West Kelowna.
Modular trailers will also be brought to the site with space for bunks, showers, toilets and amenity space. In addition to the supports provided by WKSS staff, Interior Health would also provide health services based on individual needs.
In addition to shelter spaces, the Province’s Building BC program is funding 4,700 new supportive housing units over 10 years for people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness throughout the province.