Fighting homelessness to continue as a top Kelowna council priority - InfoNews

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Fighting homelessness to continue as a top Kelowna council priority

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March 12, 2018 - 3:06 PM

KELOWNA - Kelowna city council has reaffirmed its top priorities for 2018 and to no surprise, homelessness is top of mind.

“We’ve certainly watched it move up in the citizens survey. Certainly it’s been a priority for council and it's certainly becoming a priority for the community,” consultant Martin Bell told councillors.

Bell is co-chair of the Journey Home task force, the community group tasked with establishing a coordinated approach and best practices for dealing with homelessness in Kelowna.

The task force will not present its recommendations until June but Bell said the public shouldn’t think nothing is happening in the meantime.

"There is a lot going on, it’s just a matter of communicating some of those strategies,” Bell said.

While work around emergency shelters tends to get the most attention, the city is also actively seeking federal money and is working with the community action team to support people at risk of overdose as well as the street-to-housing outreach team, Bell said.

Mayor Colin Basran lamented the lack of awareness of the extent the city is involved in homelessness initiatives.

“People don’t pay attention to the things we are doing until there’s a rezoning next to then home then suddenly it’s like OK now I care,” Basran said.

“This is just one of those things that we as a council have to get used to, we will just have to stay strong and keep down the path we know is the right one. That’s life as an elected official, you’re not going to get credit every time you do something.”

Bell also outlined initiatives in four other areas, transportation planning, clean drinking water, housing diversity and public safety.

Council is considering a system of defining council priorities that would begin one year before a municipal election.

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