Not every Kelowna council candidate supports Journey Home plan - InfoNews

Current Conditions

Mostly Cloudy
4.6°C

Not every Kelowna council candidate supports Journey Home plan

Image Credit: Shutterstock
October 11, 2018 - 7:00 PM

KELOWNA - The Journey Home task force has been the current mayor and council’s answer to the scourge of homelessness in Kelowna.

The $47 million plan aims to reduce street homelessness to “functional zero” within five years, using the Housing First model that provides housing to street homeless before addressing addictions and mental health problems.

While council approved its recommendations in June, it remains conceptual and could still be stopped in its tracks by a new council.

As part of our 2018 municipal election coverage, we asked: Do you support the recommendations of the Journey Home task force and if elected, would you vote to carry them forward? If not, how would you change the plan?

To no surprise, incumbents supported the plan as is and other candidates gave it the thumbs-up too.

Still, not everyone is fully on board.

Immediately below, we have selected the most concise answer from candidates, but the entire text of each candidate answer is provided at the bottom of the page. Do you support Journey Home? Let us know in the comments below. 

Candidates who are all for the plan in place …

Colin Basran (for mayor): Not only do I support the Journey Home, I’ve already been hard at work executing it along with many other incredible people in the community!

Ryan Donn: Yes we need to support it but we need to start on the next phase of Journey home as soon as this council term begins.

Gail Given
Gail Given
Image Credit: Contributed

Gail Given: Absolutely I support the recommendations. 

Charlie Hodge: The majority of them so far seem logical but it will take buy in from all involved, funding, and patience. I am looking forward to the next session and when theory becomes action. (full answer)

Craig Hostland: I applaud the existing City Council for this initiative and support a more comprehensive program for this critical issue.

Graeme James: I wouldn’t change the plan, I do support the recommendations of the Journey Home Task Force, and I will continue to support it moving forward. However, there are some areas I am concerned about.

Gordon Lovegrove: I fully endorse the recommendations of the Journey Home task force and if elected I would vote to carry all of them forward. 

Mo Rajabally: I fully support the concept of shifting from traditional methods to a new approach of addressing the needs of those at risk of homelessness.

Brad Sieben: I fully support the Journey Home recommendations and believe that Council must play a much larger role in advocating to the Provincial Government to fund the supports recommended in the Journey Home Strategy.

Mohini Singh: I wholeheartedly support the Journey Home task force and will continue to vote to ensure its recommendations are implemented.

Luke Stack: I do support the recommendations of the Journey Home Task force. I will assist them in any way I can to advance the plan. It is Kelowna’s best hope to assist those in need and improve the quality of life in the downtown core for all.

Loyal Wooldridge
Loyal Wooldridge
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Facebook

Loyal Wooldridge: I am a 100% supporter of the implementation of the Journey Home strategy in its entirety.

 

Not so much…

Wayne Carson: I believe that this program should be reviewed by a new council to determine the effectiveness and costs associated with the current recommendations.

Tom Dyas: Moving forward, I will reconvene a task force that is comprised of an equal representation of community partners. I will sit on this task force myself as Mayor. 

These candidates did not respond:
Lindsay Bell
Kevin Bond
Mark Boyer
Greg Dahms
Maxine DeHart
Bobby Kennedy
Amarjit Singh Lalli
Jeff Piattelli
Bob Schewe

Full answers to the question: Do you support the recommendations of the Journey Home task force and if elected, would you vote to carry them forward? If not, how would you change the plan?

Colin Basran: Not only do I support the Journey Home, I’ve already been hard at work executing it along with many other incredible people in the community! The Journey Home has received praise from the provincial government as a model for other communities across the country. As a result, our City is further ahead than most communities putting us in a good position to receive federal and provincial grants to provide housing and supports. 88 supportive housing units open in a few months and another 100 are planned for 2019. This will help house a large portion of those currently in our shelters and on our streets. As it’s already being implemented, it would be a shame for the next City Council to change course!

To get to the place where we are today, we started with an exhaustive and transparent process that every community member was invited to participate in. We worked collaboratively with 50+ agencies, every level of government, and outside experts over the span of a one-year period to develop a strategy that’s been endorsed and agreed upon by each stakeholder on the Journey Home Task Force. This process included surveys that residents of Kelowna were asked to complete and community workshops they were invited to attend.

We also did direct outreach and engaged participants with lived experience. We convened representatives from business, non-profits, service providers, School District #23, RCMP, First Nations, Interior Health, and community groups. Additionally, we had nationally recognized advisors consult throughout the process and we selected two well-respected individuals in our community from the business sector to chair the task force. These steps ensured an absolutely impartial and collaborative process enabling us to create the best path forward to prevent and end homelessness in Kelowna. We are thrilled to be acting on this strategy!

Ryan Donn: Do you know that a plan to fully eradicate homelessness in Kelowna would take $400 million. The group who created the plan also worked on creating the much talked about Medicine Hat plan came to city council with a $47 million plan and was supported. It was 10% of what the full need would be because it was achievable. Service groups, businesses, and the community all came together to work on it and it is a "made in Kelowna" solution. Yes we need to support it but we need to start on the next phase of Journey home as soon as this council term begins. Phase 1 focused on the most vulnerable but we have 3000-5000 who are living paycheque to paycheque in Kelowna. Working with the province we need to focus on that cohort for phase two of Journey home.  We need to fly at not only journey home but we need to be actively working on solutions for those in our community who aren't homeless but are one missed paycheck away from homelessness.

Tom Dyas: As an original member of the Journey Home Task Force Committee, I was present at all the scheduled Journey Home meetings, I truly understand the concept behind the plan and the timeline for its implementation. The initiative has been successful thus far and I am in full support to have it continue.  However, it is more of a three to five-year plan.  The plan does not address that require immediate action and affecting all residents of Kelowna. With winter approaching, it is urgent that we look at assisting the homeless now.

Unfortunately, I do feel strongly this committee should have involved elected officials, more business owners and residents who are directly affected by the environment in the downtown core. Many of the task force members were service providers who received funding from BC Housing. With BC Housing at the table, their ability to speak freely was hindered as a significant amount of there funding is from BC Housing.

Moving forward, I will reconvene a task force that is comprised of an equal representation of community partners. I will sit on this task force myself as Mayor. I would not delegate all the responsibilities to staff but will implement immediate solutions while also embracing the work completed of the Journey Home Plan.This is my style, my reputation, and key leadership difference and strength that I offer voters.Now is a time of action! We can, and must, do better to provide those in need with the resources required to get them off the street and into a more meaningful lifestyle plus offering them hope.

Gail Given: Absolutely I support the recommendations. The Journey Home Strategy is the result of a community driven process that included over 2000+ points of contact through community summits, design labs, a lived experiences circle, youth focus groups and public survey. The community task force as well as the city facilitated the collaboration of more than 50 community and government partners and produced a strategy that:

- provides a blueprint with concrete actions that are realistic;
- will result in measurable, positive change for those experiencing or at risk of homelessness;
- embeds and indigenous response aligned with Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action;
- incorporates a youth strategy;
- builds awareness and shared accountability across stakeholders;
- advances a system planning approach grounded in evidence;
- identifies accountabilities, targets, and resource needs for implementation;
- is solution-focused and strengths-based; and
- balances short, medium and longer-term interventions for diverse groups.

I respect and honor the work done by those many community members and agencies who contributed to this strategy.

Charlie Hodge: The majority of them so far seem logical but it will take buy-in from all involved, funding, and patience. I am looking forward to the next session and when theory becomes action.

Craig Hostland: The journey home task force is developing a new method to address homelessness. The goal is to build a long-term strategy to prevent homelessness whenever possible; and if it does occur, to have a coordinated approach that will help to ensure it is rare, short-lived and non-reoccurring. Clearly, the methods to date have not been working. The proposed 6 year 48 million dollar plan has had traction with the existing council and City Hall staff and appears comprehensive. I will scrutinize it for cost effectiveness and accuracy of estimates once I receive all the working documents. I applaud the existing City Council for this initiative and support a more comprehensive program for this critical issue; but I will scrutinize the plans and attempt to work with others with differing opinions to find a value effective approach that cuts down the proposal time period and overall cost to implement. I may not find any better means or methods, but I will ensure we scrutinize every line item for taxpayer value.

Graeme James: I wouldn’t change the plan, I do support the recommendations of the Journey Home Task Force, and I will continue to support it moving forward.

However, there are some areas I am concerned about:

• Long-term funding. I am concerned that long-term funding isn’t in place and the Kelowna taxpayers will have to make up the short-fall.
• Two distinct problems – The first, immediate problem is the problem of homelessness among people who are accepting of the help and services offered by JHTF. I do believe the Journey will help these people. But there is a percentage of the homeless that will refuse help or does not want the rules and restrictions of supported housing. I am concerned that this population will continue to grow without immediate action.

Gordon Lovegrove: I fully endorse the recommendations of the Journey Home task force and if elected I would vote to carry all of them forward.  That said, there is some mis-communication that needs to be cleared up regarding costs and benefits.  Total Cost is $47 million from federal, provincial, regional and local governments – Kelowna is spending a fraction of that.  but, the benefits are closer to $100 million in reduced costs to our support systems – now that is a win-win we should all get behind!  Moreover, I am technical lead of the UBCO Homelessness research cluster, charged to find ways that technology can promote early identification, case assessment, and resource allocations in pursuit of ‘functional homelessness’ so that no one found homeless remains so for longer than 10 days.  We need made-in-Kelowna solutions, while drawing from trusted voices.  Medicine Hat has been successful, and lends greatly to our plan.  And I am aware of Dutch models that are extremely compassionate and effective, there are others I’m sure. 

And yet, despite it being a great plan, I am also aware of some comments about whether Kelowna can afford to or should be spending our hard-earned tax dollars to reduce homelessness.  Kelowna city council, staff, and consultants had extensive public input from its residents, businesses, and academics.  What we heard from the vast majority of citizens is that compassion is the preferred course, let’s do this neighbor.  Remember, you and I – Kelowna’s reputation - will be defined in part by how we treat our less fortunate, more vulnerable community members.  And Kelowna’s reputation is what fuels our tourism economy and our amazingly blessed quality of life.

Mo Rajabally: I fully support the concept of shifting from traditional methods to a new approach of addressing the needs of those at risk of homelessness. Inclusiveness of those with the lived experience of homelessness is a vital part of planning solutions. Including our First Nations is vital. An important par for the Journey Home task force is regular reporting of success, or lack of.

Brad Sieben: I fully support the Journey Home recommendations and believe that Council must play a much larger role in advocating to the Provincial Government to fund the supports recommended in the Journey Home Strategy.

Dustin Sargant: I do believe in the Journey Home task force. Yes I would vote to carry them forward.

Mohini Singh: I wholeheartedly support the Journey Home task force and will continue to vote to ensure its recommendations are implemented. This is the most comprehensive strategy ever developed for the Central Okanagan to deal with an extremely complex issue. I encourage residents to read the full plan here:  https://www.kelowna.ca/our-community/journey-home-addressing-homelessness.  It will take resolve, partnerships and patience but I believe with a committed council and strong multi-governmental and agency partnerships the Journey Home strategies will be implemented. I’d like to thank everyone who has been involved to date.

Loyal Wooldridge: We know that results are maximized through extensive study, research and action plans that are evidence based, that is exactly what the Journey Home strategy is.  It’s important to note that aside from Housing First, there are numerous immediate, sustainable strategies that we can implement now to increase safety and preserve the dignity of our homeless population.

I am a 100% supporter of the implementation of the Journey Home strategy in its entirety.  With over 1 year of study, 21 task force members (business owners, developers, enforcement members and service providers), 23 community design labs, 636 participants and 287 lived experience participants – it’s clear we have done our due diligence to determine the best way forward, now we need to implement it.

We will need additional services during the transition process such as contracted security and increased patrols to ensure businesses and residents feel safe.  I am confident that with the full implementation of the Journey Home strategy we will see a reduction in visual homelessness on our streets.  It will take time, but I am a strong advocate of treating the cause of our issues not only reacting to the symptoms.


To contact a reporter for this story, email John McDonald 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.

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. 

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2018
InfoTel News Ltd

  • Popular penticton News
  • Comments
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile