UPDATE: Tenters are getting the boot from Leon Avenue in Kelowna - InfoNews

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Kelowna News

UPDATE: Tenters are getting the boot from Leon Avenue in Kelowna

November 26, 2019 - 9:38 AM

Concerns over safety have prompted the City of Kelowna to order tents off Leon Avenue and allow them to camp overnight at two city parks.

But, instead of being able to stay with their tents all day, they can only camp from 7 p.m. to 9 a.m.

“Our primary concern with the current use of tents for overnight sheltering on Leon is safety related,” Kelowna Fire Chief Travis Whiting said in a news release. “Specifically, the close grouping of the tents due to the rapid and surprising growth of people sheltering outside and highly combustible materials, and the observed use of unsafe heaters creating fire or carbon monoxide risk to the residents.”

A section at the base of Knox Mountain Park near Poplar Point Road at 565 Poplar Point Rd. and a park off Recreation Avenue at 551 Recreation Ave. have been set aside to allow people to camp overnight.

People will be allowed to set up tents after 1 p.m. today, Nov. 26, but going forward they won't be able to set up tents until 7 p.m.

“Overnight sheltering in public spaces is not the long-term solution,” community safety director Darren Caul said in the news release. “Through the Journey Home Strategy, the City will continue to advocate for the provincial government and community groups to provide additional supportive and scattered housing to eliminate the need for people to shelter outdoors.”

According to the news release, the law in B.C. doesn’t allow cities to ban camping in all public spaces if there are not enough temporary overnight beds but it can designate specific places for camping and prohibit it elsewhere.

Two security staff will monitor the campsites daily between 6 p.m. and 10 a.m. while bylaw and police officers will increase patrols in the neighbourhoods.

Washrooms, garbage disposal, sharps disposal, bottled water and daytime storage will be provided at the two locations.

There was a fire in one of the tents at about 10 p.m. last night but that did not trigger the eviction effort, Whiting said.

"Our fire prevention and information staff have been going down there daily to provide education and information for residents and provide for safety," he said. "This is one of the many concerns we had down there."

The fire was out by the time firefighters arrived. It appeared to have been started by a propane heater. No one was injured but there was extensive damage to the tent, Whiting said.

A section at the base of Knox Mountain Park near Poplar Point Road at 565 Poplar Point Rd. has been set aside for people to camp overnight.

A park off Recreation Avenue at 551 Recreation Ave. has been set aside for people to camp overnight.

— This story was updated at 10:22 a.m., Nov. 26, 2019, to add information about a fire in a tent on Leon Avenue.


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