Homeless on Kelowna's Leon Avenue forced to relocate | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Homeless on Kelowna's Leon Avenue forced to relocate

People sleeping at the homeless camp on Leon Avenue were forced to leave Friday, Oct. 25.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Derek Foreel
October 26, 2019 - 3:30 PM

For the first time in his life on the street, Derek Foreel had to pack his life into a shopping cart and find a new place to rest.

Foreel, who has since returned to the tent city on Kelowna’s Leon Avenue, said his forced relocation was the result of an evening visit from the RCMP Friday, Oct. 25.

“Well, everybody had their tents set up on Leon Avenue and were about to start going to sleep when at 7:40 p.m. at least 12 to 15 police cars showed up, lights on and announced over the loudspeaker that we had a 10-minute grace period to pack up all our stuff and move or face going to jail and losing all our stuff to the dumpster,” Foreel recalls.

“Right away there was mass confusion, a little anger, but everyone kept their heads about them and started packing up.”

An estimated 60 people were staying at the camp, Foreel says. The people living in the camp scattered across the city — some went to City Hall and Foreel went behind the old McDonald’s building. Foreel and others who call the camp home returned to Leon Avenue Saturday, Oct. 26.

Foreel says he and others living at the camp were under the impression that they would be allowed to stay there overnight until the provincial mat program opens. A mat program provides temporary housing to those sleeping rough in the winter.

“We could set up our tents on Leon as long as we kept it clean, caused no disturbances and didn’t harass the general public, which we have done our best to follow. But sometimes, the general public has come and started problems with us just for trying to survive,” Foreel says.

“Many people just wandered around all night with no place to sleep. I’d put money on them showing back up tonight.”

While Foreel anticipates that he will once again need to pack his life into a shopping cart tonight, he hopes his intuition is incorrect.

“I ended up having to push my stuff around in a shopping cart last night – something I have never had to do before with the many years I have been on and off the street,” Foreel says. “I don’t plan on it happening ever again, but that’s a highly unpredictable scenario.”

RCMP have not yet responded to a request for comment.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Parker Crook or call (250) 864-7494 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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