New day use sites for Kamloops's homeless aimed to open early-August | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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New day use sites for Kamloops's homeless aimed to open early-August

The Loop's business license is being revoked by the City of Kamloops on Thursday, July 22.
July 24, 2021 - 6:30 AM

With The Loop now closed in Kamloops's Tranquille Corridor, the street has been quiet as the homeless population that used its services do not have a day space like it to go to.

But a new one is on the way, and CMHA's Alfred Achoba says the hope is to open at the 346 Campbell Ave location by Aug. 1.

"We're going in there with a tremendous amount of resources, both locally and provincially. We feel that with the processes we have in place, the goals of Envision, within the first 30 days, is to engage with the people there and engage in forming relationships," Achoba, acting director of the Canadian Mental Health Association of Kamloops, said.

His organization, through the City of Kamloops, has partnered with Ask Wellness, Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society and Interior Community Services to open a day space on Kamloops's North Shore for people experiencing homelessness, one of two planned to be opened in Kamloops and similar to The Loop's operation less than a block away.

Achoba says the goal is to eventually encourage clients into shelter and provide further service with clients once they are there.

READ MORE: City of Kamloops revokes The Loop's business license

While it's going to be similar to The Loop, he says Envision will work to fill the gaps The Loop had in its services. The ability to utilize resources from four organizations to do the job will be helpful.

"The lack of resources that has been described (at The Loop) was the biggest issue," Achoba said. "I don't think The Loop failed. I think, with many agencies, the work we do is sensitive. You need to have all the procedures in place and staffing with expertise. I think that's where the gap is."

While many of the concerns surrounding The Loop at 405A Tranquille Road were regarding drug use and property crime, even Kamloops RCMP Supt. Syd Lecky says the social issues facing Kamloops, and many cities in B.C., are much more complex than something that can be fixed through police enforcement.

"I can send Car 40 to respond to take him to hospital to treat the symptom, but it's not treating the overall problem. Something's got to bring us all together. I can't do that. The city can't do that. We need a government approach, I believe, whether it's provincial, federal or a collective approach," Lecky said.

Supt. Lecky spoke about crime facing certain core neighbourhoods in Kamloops while delivering a 2020 annual crime report to city council on July 20. While he delivered a report that Kamloops crime was, on the whole, down in 2020, he acknowledged that there are still many issues facing Kamloops, and many other cities in the province, that stem from homelessness and the opioid epidemic.

READ MORE: Drug decriminalization isn't radical, it's already here in the Thompson-Okanagan

"Where are we at provincially with safe supplies? Are we going to address that? Where are we at in terms of working collectively with courts?" Lecky said at the council meeting, expressing that B.C.'s social issues cannot be boiled down to simply a law enforcement tactic.

While The Loop is closed, it will be at least one week before replacements are ready in Kamloops. Envision on the North Shore will be coupled with The Gathering Place, an expansion of the 48 Victoria Street West mini storage facility — already known to be a gathering place across from City Hall for people experiencing homelessness.

The City's decision to shut down The Loop follows growing cries from the public after it had already been deemed a nuisance property by the City of Kamloops. The COVID Meal Train operated out of the building to feed homeless people and those who were food insecure. The Loop would also offer shuttle services to homeless individuals to shelters and help people do things like obtain government ID if they needed it.

Achoba says that without more resources provided to non-profits in Kamloops, the same fate could fall on another property.

"Do I believe NIMBYism played a role? I think so. There are comments around The Loop like not having the resources. This is where we need to have a conversation as a community about where the city dedicates more resources," Achoba said. "It may be The Loop today. It may be another tomorrow."

Social, housing and community development manager for the City of Kamloops, Carmin Mazzotta, oversees the day use facilities for the City, but he could not be reached by iNFOnews.ca for this story.

READ MORE: Formerly homeless youth in Kamloops calls out 'short-term' solutions


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.

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