City of Kelowna wants to cut down on donations to its homeless campers | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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City of Kelowna wants to cut down on donations to its homeless campers

People are being asked not to donate directly to Kelowna's homeless campsite.
December 06, 2019 - 2:39 PM

About 350 kilograms of food and other material are thrown out each day from the City of Kelowna sanctioned homeless campground on Recreation Avenue.

While a video posted yesterday, Dec. 6, shows one of the campers objecting to tools and bedding being tossed in the garbage, the City, in a news release, says some of that is coming from unneeded donations.

“It is amazing to see this outpouring of compassion from the community,” Darren Caul, the City’s director of community safety, said in the release. “However, approximately 350 kilograms of abandoned materials and food are collected and removed from the Recreation Avenue site daily. Directing donations to the appropriate non-profit agencies will ensure that less is thrown out and benefit more people while ensuring Recreation Avenue is used for its intended purpose of overnight sheltering only.”

The Central Okanagan Food Bank’s Un-Sheltered Program is providing an appropriate amount of food to the site so any donations for the campers should be directed to the food bank. Other non-profit organizations are also providing food to the campers and people living outside.

“The Recreation Avenue site is intended to only permit temporary overnight sheltering and is not intended to be the site of an ongoing, continuously occupied homeless encampment,” the City states in the release. “The lesson learned from the experience of other local governments in British Columbia with ongoing homeless encampments is that they quickly escalate in size and complexity and create hazards and dangers that impact people experiencing homelessness as well as the surrounding community. Delivering large volumes of donated materials to the site is incompatible with the limited use of the site for temporary overnight sheltering.

Interior Health staff are visiting the site daily, offering mental health and substance abuse services and a number of other agencies are involved, the City says.

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