Bureaucracy won’t delay search for new home for Cornerstone emergency shelter in Kelowna - InfoNews

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Bureaucracy won’t delay search for new home for Cornerstone emergency shelter in Kelowna

A woman stands outside the Cornerstone emergency shelter on Leon Avenue in Kelowna, March 7, 2018.
December 03, 2018 - 11:15 AM

KELOWNA - Even though former Kelowna RCMP Supt. Bill McKinnon’s report to council on crime and homelessness was sent to city staff for review, that doesn’t mean his recommendations are in limbo.

The day after his Nov. 26 report to council, McKinnon told iNFOnews.ca the city needs to start the hunt for a new location for the Cornerstone emergency shelter immediately.

“The city is very much aware that Cornerstone is scheduled to close March 31,” city risk manager Lance Kayfish told iNFOnews.ca. “That’s the deadline we’ve always been working towards.”

Kayfish was handed McKinnon’s report and instructed to “report back to city council early in 2019 outlining an implementation plan based on the recommendations of (McKinnon’s) Public Safety Report.”

“We’re going to try to be really quick but whether or not we’ll be able to get back to them in January with a response to everything in Bill’s report is tough to say,” he said. “We’re going to try to get back pretty quick, that’s for sure.”

He says the city has been working for some time to find alternative sites for both the Cornerstone shelter and the Inn From the Cold shelter, which is scheduled to close Jan. 7, and those efforts continue.

“It isn’t easy, I’ll admit,” Kayfish said, adding he's been working with B.C. Housing, the John Howard Society and Inn From the Cold.

"We’re all working together. It takes a community to rally to figure out something for a situation like this.”

Cornerstone opened in the fall of 2017 as the homeless population grew in Kelowna and people were at risk of freezing if they stayed on the streets. But it was also only a couple of blocks from the long existing Gospel Mission so homeless people were largely concentrated within a few blocks on Leon Avenue downtown.

Cornerstone is also a “low barrier” shelter, meaning supervised drug use is allowed whereas the Gospel Mission prohibits drugs.

The search for shelter space is just one of McKinnon’s recommendations that are already being implemented.

A report by current RCMP Supt. Brent Mundle that is going to council today, Dec. 3, includes details on progress in creating a HUB system where police work with community agencies to channel people into care instead of the criminal justice system.

Other things like foot patrols by private security officers, more garbage cans, washrooms and street cleaning are also already in place. The other recommendations will take longer to implement, if city council decides to proceed with them.

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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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2018
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