Kelowna has new strategy to win support from residents on homelessness issues | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna has new strategy to win support from residents on homelessness issues

These tents were set up in the Recreation Avenue campsite in Kelowna in late November, 2019.
February 20, 2020 - 4:52 PM

After massive public protests against various efforts to house the homeless – or find them places to camp - the City of Kelowna and other agencies will try to get affected neighbours to be more welcoming of their efforts.

Called the “Community Inclusion Model” it will be led by the City’s community safety director Darren Caul who has set up two committees to try to educate neighbourhoods about the homeless and supportive housing projects as well as to get suggestions on how to minimize the impact in affected neighbourhoods.

A report outlining the process is going to Kelowna City Council on Monday, Feb. 24.

Hearthstone and Heath House opened just over a year ago near each other in the Highway 97 and Leathead Road neighbourhood and have been seen as problems by neighbours and other residents ever since.

Two more projects are opening in the spring – both of which sparked opposition when they were first announced. Another one that is slated to open next year triggered a 14,000-signature petition of opposition.

Samuel Place, a supportive housing complex on McIntosh Road in Rutland, is slated to open in March. Stephen Place on Agassiz Road will open later in the spring.

The plan is to have media and city council members tour the facilities prior to opening as well as holding small meetings with neighbours and forming community advisory committees to hold regular meetings with neighbours.

A separate group made up of agencies like City bylaws and the RCMP will look at ways to minimize crime in the surrounding neighbourhoods (within a 500-metre radius) and monitor those areas after the homes open.

The new model will be launched with meetings in the North End of downtown on Feb. 25.

“The North End Downtown, an area that has experienced change with the addition of temporary overnight outdoor sites, temporary bridge housing and a winter sheltering program, was identified as a key area to help further inform and shape the community inclusion model and approach,” the report states. “The format is small group dialogues that will include information sharing, short presentation and collaborative discussion about ways to build an inclusive community where everyone has a safe and healthy place to live.”

One of the biggest objections from Rutland and North End residents was that locations were selected for these housing projects without any consultation with the community. The report does not address those concerns. It deals with ways to engage the community a few weeks before they open.

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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