KAMLOOPS - The City of Kamloops is taking action after hearing the public's concerns around the Stuart Wood winter homeless shelter.
In a news release, the city says it met with community partners today, Nov. 24, to discuss the temporary emergency weather shelter at the former elementary school and address concerns raised by residents at this week's council meeting.
Since the shelter opened on Nov. 1, the Canadian Mental Health Association says 143 individuals have stayed there. People can access showers, food, a safe place to sleep and limited laundry services, according to the release.
Executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association's Kamloops Branch, Christa Mullaly, says staff has been able to build relationships with people seeking shelter.
"We’ve seen many new faces at Stuart Wood that we’ve never seen before at Emerald Centre,” Mullaly says in the release. "In addition to providing them shelter, we’ve had an opportunity to build relationships with these folks, which, in our experience, increases the likelihood of them seeking help in the future."
The city says that while the shelter has been successful, issues around homelessness are still present in the area of Stuart Wood and through the city. Neighbours and business owners brought forward concerns this week about an increase in nuisance behaviour in the area.
Parents have also spoken out to the city and school district about a school bus stop's proximity to the shelter.
Kamloops's social and planning development supervisor, Jen Casorso, says the city is adapting in response to this level of shelter demand.
From 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, bylaw officers, members of the ASK Wellness's overdose prevention team and the Interior Community Services' street outreach team, along with city parks staff will be expanding their presence at the shelter, specifically around school bus pick-up and drop-off times. They'll also help keep the area clean.
Fencing will be installed this week to separate the shelter space from the playground area and the school bus stop. Sharps containers will also be installed this week, along with signage reminding park users that children play in the area.
The city says additional lighting will be installed to deter vandalism.
"Overall, we’ve felt a lot of support for the shelter," Casorso says in the release. "When concerns do arise, the co-operation we’ve seen from our community partners has been incredible. Everyone is dedicated to working together to find solutions."
The shelter will be open until March 31 of next year.
The City has also provided a list of resources for residents:
If you find discarded needles or other drug paraphernalia anywhere in the city, contact the ASK Wellness Society via phone or text at 778-257-1292 or email ODP433@askwellness.ca
If you find discarded needles or other drug-related materials in the downtown area, you can call the CAP team at 250-572-3009.
To learn how to dispose of needles safely and about services available to at-risk youth in our community, go here.
If you are interested in having a sharps container installed at your business or in your community, please contact the ASK Wellness Society via phone or text at 778-257-1292 or email ODP433@askwellness.ca
If you are interested in learning about the Block Watch or Crime Prevention Programs that are available, go here or call 250-571-3862.
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