Homeless protestors at Kamloops city hall demand more services | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

Would you like to subscribe to our newsletter?

Kamloops News

Homeless protestors at Kamloops city hall demand more services

Summer Crombie leads a small protest in front of Kamloops City Hall in response to the impending closure of two support programs.

A group of homeless people have stationed in front of Kamloops city hall. It's not an uncommon sight. People who are homeless will regularly gather at the picnic tables during the day, especially when the weather is warm.

This time, though, they have a message: help us.

The impending closures of The Loop and The Mustard Seed's day space, along with the delayed opening of a City-backed day space across from city hall, means there are fewer places to go, to eat and to find resources.

"Kamloops is offering nothing. It's barely survival," homeless protestor Summer Crombie said.

Crombie has multiple signs voicing her frustration to politicians at City Hall and to others who will listen.

READ MORE: 'We're not bad people': Why a homeless man is stuck on the street in Kamloops

While speaking with iNFOnews.ca on Wednesday afternoon, May 15, police and bylaw officers were actively taking down tents put up on the lawn, but officers took no action on the protest.

There were around 10 people there when iNFOnews.ca arrived around 4 p.m., but Crombie said there were more before authorities showed up. Bylaw officers, meanwhile, were told there were nearly 20 people when called to City Hall that afternoon.

Crombie said the closure of the two daytime services means homeless people will lose crucial meal stops, while getting pushed further to the edges of the community.

To her, the public perception of homeless people like her is made worse by "a small group" on the streets who steal and cause mischief.

Her frustration was mirrored by Murray Love, who recently spoke with iNFOnews.ca and initiated the idea of a protest. He wasn't at City Hall at the time.

“There are good and bad people everywhere, because of homeless stigma people want to sweep us under the carpet and forget about us," Love previously said.

Crombie has been homeless for four years and during that time she's been in and out of shelters and supportive housing locally.

"There's no where for us to go. No where," she said, lamenting the constant effort to find shelter, inside or not, and the difficulty in finding counselling and life skills support.

READ MORE: Kamloops councillor urges caution over increasing bylaw officer powers

While outside, she said the constant need to uproot from makeshift shelters is just one thing that keeps her in a state of survival and improving her situation is difficult.

She said there's a need for more housing paired with skills training and accessible drug addiction treatment.

"I see in Kelowna and Vancouver they have those tiny homes, and there's services like life skills training. Why can't we have that? Where are the services?"

Police and bylaw officers at the scene would not comment on their response to the area, but they left once the two tents were taken down.

READ MORE: Coroner confirms hypothermia in death of Kamloops homeless man

Some of the people packing up their belongings were frustrated, but Crombie said she understood that tents weren't allowed there.

Kamloops bylaw manager Will Beatty said officers were simply enforcing a restriction on temporary structures, which limits them to certain "unmanicured" parks, mostly along riverbanks.

When called to move homeless people along from a property, Beatty said bylaw officers have often directed people to The Loop or The Mustard Seed during the day. Soon that won't be an option.

"It's one of the major concerns for (bylaw officers). OK, now that this service is no longer being offered, where are they supposed to go?" Beatty said. "There's not a lot we can do, but the impact to (officers) is huge."

The City is working with non-profits and BC Housing to create what's been called an "access hub" on the North Shore, meant to replace The Loop, while the city-backed Gathering Place dayspace across from City Hall remains an empty parking lot. It's not clear when it will open.

As for the protest, Beatty said they can continue as long as other rules, like a bylaw against tents in the park, aren't broken.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 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.

We welcome your comments and opinions on our stories but play nice. We won't censor or delete comments unless they contain off-topic statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam or obviously fake profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in comments, email the editor in the link above. SUBSCRIBE to our awesome newsletter here.

News from © iNFOnews, 2024

  • Popular vernon News
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile