February 04, 2016 - 6:30 PM
PENTICTON - Mike Forster says it’s been a long, trying winter for his group Keep the Cold Off Penticton but he remains optimistic the goal of establishing a low barrier shelter for the homeless in the city will be achieved.
Forster says he was frustrated with the system in January following a weekend in which temperatures remained above the -3 Celsius threshold, the temperature at which emergency shelter beds would open in the city.
It would have been difficult for anyone on the street to stay comfortable in the rain and sleet weather that weekend, he says, wondering what the cost to society is for RCMP, paramedics and the emergency medical system to tend to those who end up in distress because of their vulnerability to the elements.
Forster says his Keep the Cold Off Penticton initiative has been successful in helping the homeless cope with winter conditions this year, but his push to create a homeless shelter has been more of a struggle for a number of reasons.
"People have been doing this for a long time, and I’m a new player at the game. It’s difficult building those (collaborative) relationships quickly,” he says, noting some organizations who have been involved in the process for a longer period of time can sometimes be territorial when it comes to collaborative efforts.
“I’m not a guy to write a business proposal and I think that’s where some of the hiccups are coming from,” he says, adding city council has been very interested in helping his group work with others in the community.
“I jumped into this thinking we could change the world really really quick and there’s just a lot of red tape to cut through to get those things done.”
The next meeting of several community groups, government officials and other parties interested in establishing a low barrier homeless shelter in Penticton is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 1:30 p.m. in the Soupateria Hall.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016