Running homeless campsites for a month cost the City of Kelowna more than $100,000 | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Running homeless campsites for a month cost the City of Kelowna more than $100,000

These two large tents are being removed from the Recreation Avenue homeless campsite in Kelowna's North End today, Dec. 23, 2019, as services are being scaled back.
December 23, 2019 - 3:30 PM

As some of the key pieces of the Recreation Avenue homeless campsite are removed, the City of Kelowna has provided with a rough tally of the costs.

The site is being partially dismantled today, Dec. 23, as beds and mats open in downtown Kelowna and a key security firm has declined an offer to renew its contract.

Darren Caul, the City's community safety manager, told that it has cost $4,000 to $4,500 per day.

That’s what Caul called the “hard” costs for things like storage containers, port-a-potties, a warming tent, contractors to clean the site and private security officers.

The camp opened Nov. 26 and operated until today so those costs are $112,000 to $126,000 in total. That does not include the massive presence of City bylaw officers.

“We’re still tabulating what any soft costs would be,” Caul said. “We have to be careful with that - that’s bylaw officers’ time and whether they spend it at Recreation Avenue or on Leon, that’s part of their daily job.”

Most of the campers at Recreation Avenue had camped on Leon Avenue near Kelowna's Gospel Mission shelter from early October until they were moved off the street in November.

Part of the Recreation Avenue cost was for “enhanced security” provided by Lions Gate Risk Management Group.

“We contracted the company for two weeks, wanting to see, not only how they did with this very challenging assignment, but also we needed to see what the numbers we were looking at after Fuller (Place bridge housing) opened,” Caul said. “We indicated an interest to renew and the company advised us, in writing, that they would not be renewing and they cited risk liability and occupational health and safety.”

Caul said he could not comment on what the company saw as “risk liability” while the company said only the City could comment on their work in Kelowna.

That contract ended today at 11 a.m. so the warming and harm reduction tents are to be removed today. The two containers that stored materials will also be removed but a bylaw officer on site said while that might not happen today, they will be emptied and locked.

People will still be allowed to camp overnight at the site and some cleaning and sanitation services will remain.

Caul said that trying to recover the cost of running the camp is part of an ongoing discussion with the province, which is responsible for providing housing.

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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