A luxury hotel would have been cheaper than West Kelowna's homeless shelter - InfoNews

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A luxury hotel would have been cheaper than West Kelowna's homeless shelter

The Stevens Road emergency shelter
May 16, 2020 - 7:30 AM

It cost taxpayers roughly $500,000 to operate a 32-bed homeless shelter on Stevens Road in West Kelowna for two months this winter.

Given that the average night saw 26 people sleeping there, the cost for the 68 days of operation works out to just over $282 per night per person.

Compare that to the most basic room available at The Grand Okanagan Resort on Kelowna’s waterfront. That goes for $304 (with taxes and fees) in prime season next week. Next February, the same room will cost $239 per night, including all taxes and fees.

Other hotel rooms in Kelowna start for as low as $75 per night.

“B.C. Housing contributed approximately $472,000 in operating costs to support the temporary winter shelter at 1160 Stevens Rd. in West Kelowna,” B.C. Housing said in an email to iNFOnews.ca. “Delivery, setup, take down and return (both ways) was approximately $30,000.”

The shelter was initially expected to open Jan. 1 with 40 beds. Due to delays in hauling the trailers up from Vancouver because of snowstorms, it didn’t open until Jan. 24 and with only 32 beds.

It was on leased private land and closed March 31 as scheduled.

Information that went to West Kelowna city council earlier week shows that the RCMP opened 80 files due to the shelter. That included 53 times when they “attended” at the shelter and another 27 files were started due to police visits to the area around the shelter.

This came at a time when the number of RCMP files in the entire city increased by only 16 (2,209 this year versus 2,193 last year).

“The majority of it was what we would call nuisance calls,” Cpl. Jocelyn Noseworthy, the RCMP’s communications officer, told iNFOnews.ca. “The same kind of thing we get down on Leon Avenue. Telling people you can’t just sit around here during the day so, moving people along. And a few were the kind of other issues we deal with, with the homeless – drug complaints, seeing people that are breaching conditions and things like that. Not a lot of really severe crimes.”

An 800-name petition against putting the shelter in that location failed to stop West Kelowna City Council from approving a permit for it.

“It wasn’t too bad,” Noseworthy said. “It shows that, when we’re aware of something that is going to be happening and we plan properly with the city and allocate resources, it doesn’t end up being such a bad thing.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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