Homeless Kelowna campers struggle in the freezing weather to pack up tents, possessions | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Homeless Kelowna campers struggle in the freezing weather to pack up tents, possessions

Dave Laboucane struggles to pack up his tent for the day in the face of howling winds and dropping temperatures at one of Kelowna's new tent cities near the curling club, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019.
November 27, 2019 - 3:37 PM

CONTENT WARNING

People who spent the night in tents near the Kelowna Curling Club struggled to pack up the up and store their possessions while battling a howling frigid wind today.

Temperatures are expected to grow even colder for the next few days.

“Nobody will be getting out of their tents in the morning,” predicted Darieck Thomas.

“My hands are already frozen,” added his wife Gee.

That was at about 11 a.m. today, Nov. 27 – about 24 hours after they were forced to pack up their tents and possession from Leon Avenue and set up again in the infield of a ball diamond behind the Kelowna Curing Club. It took at least another 90 minutes to pack up the last of the tents and possessions.

“It’s a good thing I have a girlfriend to snuggle up with,” Dave Laboucane said as he pulled another sweater out of a tent filled with bags. “I don’t have any money and it costs for propane for my heater.”

While he’s upset about not having a warm place to sleep at night and temperatures are going to drop to around -12 C, he philosophically asked: “What am I going to do about it?”

All three were more upset about the hassles of packing up their tents every morning then setting up again at night, in the dark.

Would they welcome a warm place to sleep at night?

“Fuck yes,” Darieck Thomas said.

The City is granting them some leniency about being packed up by 9 a.m. to start with but is insisting the tents can’t stay up during the day.

The campers are, however, relatively content with the location of their new home and their neighbour at the curling club is fine with them being there.

“Things went really well last night,” general manager Jock Tyre told iNFOnews.ca. “I would not want to be out there with the howling wind.”

Tyre was given a courtesy call by the City on Monday evening to let him know the site was going to be offered to the homeless campers. It wasn’t until yesterday morning that crews arrived to set up fencing between the infield and the curling rink’s parking lot, install a shipping container for storage along with port-a-potties.

Security cameras are being installed and the curling club is looking at improved lighting options for the parking lot.

The site does not impact the club’s operation but Tyre noted it has to be a temporary fix. In April he needs that space so he can erect a massive tent as the facility will host the World Mixed Doubles and Senior Curling Championships.

On the other side of the ball field is the Canada Post mail sorting station.

Matthew Aitken is the president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers Local 760 which represents the workers – some of whom work graveyard shifts at the station.

“The building is quite secure,” he told iNFOnews.ca. “Canada Post has lots of security measures so everybody’s mail and everybody’s products are safe. There’s fenced compounds and fenced parking lots around the property and security cameras and there is 24-hour on-site security."

He noted that just because the new neighbours are homeless doesn’t automatically mean they are criminals or dangerous.

“I don’t see a lot of potential issues related to the relocation of the tent city,” he said. “My concern is more for the people who are there, out in the cold, on the fringes of society because capitalism has let them down.”


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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