Homeless shelter isn't the problem in downtown, says West Kelowna mayor - InfoNews

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Homeless shelter isn't the problem in downtown, says West Kelowna mayor

Gord Milsom
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Facebook
June 15, 2019 - 7:30 AM

WEST KELOWNA - A Town Hall meeting has been called by West Kelowna Mayor Gord Milson in response to growing community safety concerns.

Many have pointed to the homeless shelter set up this winter in First United Church as the source of increasing area concerns about safety.

Milsom doesn’t share that view, but wants to have a community conversation.

“It may be people that have addiction issues and mental health issues that are living in tents in the bush that aren’t associated at all with the shelter,” Milsom told iNFOnews.ca today, June 14. “That’s a very good probability.”

Milsom met with a handful of business owners earlier this month and had another meeting with about a dozen more last week.

“Certainly, there are concerns for some business owners,” he said. “Some of their employees and some of their customers don’t feel all that safe.”

Milsom doesn’t claim to be an expert on the issue. Nancy Henderson, the city’s general manager of planning, has been tackling these problems and will update council on June 26.

The following evening, June 27 from 6-9 p.m., there will be a Town Hall meeting at the Lions Hall.

Milson wants, first of all, to let the public know what’s going on with the shelter, which is now termed “bridge transition” housing rather than an emergency shelter, in addition to police, bylaws and others.

And, he wants input from the public in order to try to tackle the growing safety concerns.

He’s also inviting MLA Ben Stewart and MP Dan Albas to attend, since many of the problems go beyond the city’s jurisdiction.

“These social issues aren’t going to disappear overnight,” Milsom said. “We need to find long term solutions. That’s why I met with downtown business owners. I want to find out exactly what’s going on. Get the facts so we can help address the problems.”



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