Five West Kelowna council candidates who want to piggyback on Kelowna's Journey Home - InfoNews

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Five West Kelowna council candidates who want to piggyback on Kelowna's Journey Home

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October 18, 2018 - 7:00 PM

WEST KELOWNA - There's plenty of benefits to living in the shadow of Kelowna. It tends to attract and absorb the bigger city issues from nearby residents.

Most of the crime, street and social issues and taxpayers there tend to pick up the tabs for expensive solutions that might otherwise be spread around to nearby cities like West Kelowna.

But the Westside is growing up and some of these issues are popping up.

We asked candidates this question: West Kelowna just completed its first ever homeless count showing there is a growing problem. Should West Kelowna have a shelter? Should it piggyback on Kelowna's Journey Home Task Force?

Five supported working with Kelowna and its Journey Home strategy while exiting mayor Doug Findlater was opposed.

Most stressed the need to work with other agencies and governments to deal with homelessness.

Here are key points from their answers, and at the bottom of the page you can see their full response.

Is this really West Kelowna's problem?

Rosalind Neis: The Homeless count showed that roughly half of those surveyed (35) identified as aboriginal. This number does not warrant huge expenditures for stand alone facilities and WFN should support their population while non-indigenous could benefit from resources of larger services already in existence in Kelowna.

Work in tandem with Journey Home

Rusty Ensign: West Kelowna shouldn’t have a shelter but it’s going to have to have a shelter. The biggest challenge is how and where to put the shelter.

West Kelowna should be involved with the Journey Home Task Force. Working in tandem with Journey Home we can help solve a common problem.

Jason Friesen: I believe that we do need a shelter on the Westside either in West Kelowna or on WFN land. It would make sense to partner and support the Journey Home Task as the circumstances and situation in Kelowna is not dissimilar to West Kelowna and there is no need duplicate the efforts.

Bryden Winsby: We’ll need to decide if and how this should be the responsibility of local government, in partnership with community organizations and the province. I don’t believe it should be the sole responsibility of local government, and by extension, local property taxpayers.
For that reason it makes sense to continue our relationship with the City of Kelowna’s Journey Home Task Force, which provided much of the impetus for our survey.

Carol Zanon: The city did its first homelessness assessment. This will support policy development, funding requests and future initiatives. I learned that no one community can go it alone.

Jayson Zilkie: As It’s about collaborating and coordinating with other service providers to create a community effort around homelessness.
I love the efforts of Kelowna Journey Home Task Force. They have created a unique plan that is designed for Kelowna, so piggybacking directly from them isn’t the right approach. We can learn a lot from what they are doing and implement many of their strategies and processes.

Don’t get involved in Journey Home

Doug Findlater
Doug Findlater

Doug Findlater: West Kelowna already has a seasonal nighttime and daytime homeless shelter. It should be continued with careful consideration to the location; and provision of support, health, employment and housing services for exit strategies from homelessness.
West Kelowna does not need to jump into Kelowna’s $41 M proposed homelessness plan as we need a measured, modest “made in West Kelowna” solution.

Need year-round shelter
Mary Mandarino
: Homelessness is a problem on the westside and the municipality must sponsor a year round shelter to help coral and at least quantify the problem better and help to steer them to other services.

Gord Milsom: There is a need for a temporary shelter on the Greater Westside moving hopefully towards transitional housing with the support of BC Housing.
We can certainly learn from the City of Kelowna’s Journey Home Strategy and from how it is being implemented.

Need to develop a plan
Winston Wammer:
Before we commit to any solutions we need to work in concert with our neighbouring communities, provincial and federal governments and agencies.
Gordon Wiebe: Homelessness is a tough problem for a city of our size to solve on its own. The province and federal governments have better resources to deal with this problem. Solving this issue requires a collaborative approach.

These candidates did not respond.
Philip Akins
Jerome Chung
Rick de Jong
Brad Dobbin
Joe Gluska
Stephen Johnston
Tiffany Pare

Full Responses

Rusty Ensign: This is an issue that we have to face. Those who cannot help themselves in our society need and should be helped by a society as wealthy and fortunate as our own. Homeless need to be viewed with compassion not judgement. The Emmanuel Church and the West Kelowna Shelter Society have provided a much needed winter shelter for the homeless in our city. The province, charity and West Kelowna have helped fund the shelter on an interim basis. West Kelowna shouldn’t have a shelter but it’s going to have to have a shelter. It’s one of the issues that any growing city has to address. The biggest challenge is how and where to put the shelter. There’s a lot of lessons to be learned from what’s happened in Kelowna. West Kelowna should be involved with the Journey Home Task Force. For every dollar spent on helping or rehabilitating the homeless it saves two dollars in policing and health care. Not to mention crime reduction. Working in tandem with Journey Home we can help solve a common problem.
Doug Findlater: West Kelowna already has a seasonal nighttime and daytime homeless shelter supported by the provincial government and a Grant In Aid from the city, and is operated by church and community volunteers. It should be continued with careful consideration to the location; and provision of support, health, employment and housing services for exit strategies from homelessness by those clients. Costs are borne by the province however the City can continue to facilitate and advocate for needed services. West Kelowna does not need to jump into Kelowna’s $41 M proposed homelessness plan as we need a measured, modest “made in West Kelowna” solution.
Jason Friesen: I believe that we do need a shelter on the Westside either in West Kelowna or on WFN land. It would make sense to partner and support the Journey Home Task as the circumstances and situation in Kelowna is not dissimilar to West Kelowna and there is no need duplicate the efforts.
Mary Mandarino: Homelessness is a problem on the westside and the municipality must sponsor a year round shelter to help coral and at least quantify the problem better and help to steer them to other services.
Gord Milsom: The City of West Kelowna should take a greater leadership role in addressing the complex issue of homelessness. The City should support the good work done by the West Kelowna Partners for a Healthy Community, lobby the Province for mental health and other needed health care services, work in collaboration with Westbank First Nations, and the City of Kelowna. There is a need for a temporary shelter on the Greater Westside moving hopefully towards transitional housing with the support of BC Housing. We can certainly learn from the City of Kelowna’s Journey Home Strategy and from how it is being implemented.
Rosalind Neis: The Homeless count showed that roughly half of those surveyed (35) identified as aboriginal. This number does not warrant huge expenditures for stand alone facilities and WFN should support their population while non-indigenous could benefit from resources of larger services already in existence in Kelowna.
Winston Wammer: Homelessness is not only our problem but every communities issue. Before we commit to any solutions we need to work in concert with our neighboring communities, provincial and federal governments and agencies to formulate a plan with the results targeting the end of homelessness.
Gordon Wiebe: The Emmanuel church has done a formidable job of trying to tackle the problem on the Westside. Otherwise, homelessness is a tough problem for a city of our size to solve on its own. The province and federal governments have better resources to deal with this problem. Solving this issue requires a collaborative approach.
Bryden Winsby: Homelessness is a problem in many Canadian communities and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The Point in Time survey this year provided a summertime snapshot of the situation in West Kelowna and Westbank First Nation. The 72 individuals who agreed to participate gave us valuable information on their ages, gender and reasons why they are homeless.
This information will help guide council in deciding what measures to take, whether that be provision of a shelter or some other form of supportive housing. We’ll need to decide if and how this should be the responsibility of local government, in partnership with community organizations and the province. I don’t believe it should be the sole responsibility of local government, and by extension, local property taxpayers. For that reason it makes sense to continue our relationship with the City of Kelowna’s Journey Home Task Force, which provided much of the impetus for our survey.
We have supported Westbank First Nation’s application to the BC Housing Indigenous Housing Fund and I expect that the homelessness issue will be an important one when the new council determines its strategic priorities for 2019. The issue certainly was important for us when we set priorities for this year. It led to preparation of a research paper on West Kelowna social issues and one of its initial recommendations was to conduct the Point in Time survey. Homelessness was one of five major themes stemming from interviews conducted for the research paper, the others being:
• Barriers to accessing individual and family services.
• Food security.
• Housing affordability and accessibility.
• Lack of mental health and substance use services.
All of them require solutions that cannot rest with the city alone. Collaboration with and assistance from senior governments is essential.
Carol Zanon: West Kelowna directed staff to bring forward recommendations from the social issues research paper, as part of the 2018 strategic priorities. Consequently, the city did its first homelessness assessment. This will support policy development, funding requests and future initiatives. Recently I attended a provincial conference and learned about approaches and ways to solve this problem. I learned that no one community can go it alone. The effort has to be collaborative. Municipalities have to work together and do the right thing to protect vulnerable people. I see the role of our city as one of support to our community outreach programs, and to facilitate and advocate for supportive services.

Jayson Zilkie:As Treasurer and Board Member of the Kelowna Gospel Mission I am well aware of the homelessness issue in West Kelowna and Kelowna. Having one dedicated shelter is not necessarily the easiest answer. It’s about collaborating and coordinating with other service providers to create a community effort around homelessness. Do we need a place to serve the homeless community? Yes absolutely. That can take multiple forms by working with key stakeholders in the community to create both a short term and long term solution.
I love the efforts of Kelowna Journey Home Task Force. They presented to our board at the Kelowna Gospel Mission. They have created a unique plan that is designed for Kelowna, so piggybacking directly from them isn’t the right approach. We can learn a lot from what they are doing and implement many of their strategies and processes to holistically deal with the homeless issue in West Kelowna.


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