Lake Country looking at alternatives for residents before Airport Inn is shuttered | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Lake Country looking at alternatives for residents before Airport Inn is shuttered

This collapsed deck triggered an order to close down the Airport Inn Lakeside in Lake County but it may throw around two dozen people out on the street.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / District of Lake Country
September 18, 2019 - 10:51 AM

LAKE COUNTRY - If Lake Country council carries through on its threat to board up the dilapidated Airport Inn Lakeside, it could also create a homelessness problem for the roughly two dozen people living there.

That’s the quandary council will wrestle with over the next couple of weeks after hearing an appeal last night, Sept. 18, from the lawyer representing the owner of the motel.

“We’re trying to do this in a balanced way, in a way that also takes into consideration the people that are living there, given that the living conditions there aren’t – I wouldn’t call them third world  - but they’re not the best,” Michael Mercer, Lake Country’s director of policy and legal affairs told today.

On Aug. 20, after years of problems with the motel, council ordered that it be shut down, all residents removed and that it be boarded up and fenced off within 45 days – which would be around Oct. 5.

Mercer expects council to respond to the appeal at their next meeting, which is scheduled for Oct. 1.

In the meantime, staff have been talking to the provincial government, Interior Health, other local governments and B.C. Housing to try to find ways to house the people living there. They’re trying to set up a joint meeting with all the various agencies but it has yet to be scheduled.

At a Kelowna city council meeting on Monday, councillor Maxine DeHart said she had heard there were 23 people living there that would be shipped to Kelowna. She was told by Sue Wheeler, the city’s social development manager, that was not the case and that Wheeler had met with Lake Country staff who were trying to find alternatives within that municipality.

“We’re certainly not shipping everyone off to Kelowna,” Mercer said. “That’s not the solution.”

Lake Country doesn’t have an emergency shelter and has been somewhat immune from the homeless troubles experienced by Kelowna and West Kelowna but Mercer agreed the impending closure of the Airport Inn brings the issue to the forefront.

The municipality initiated the shut down procedures after a deck on the motel collapsed and staff were worried about the safety of the occupants.

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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