This neighbourhood has a different take on Kelowna's homeless crisis | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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This neighbourhood has a different take on Kelowna's homeless crisis

Residents of Kelowna's north end signed a letter saying they are not opposed to having these homeless people housed in their neighbourhood if a suitable indoor location can be found for them.
December 02, 2019 - 10:35 AM

While some Kelowna residents are fighting against the placement of homeless and supportive housing in their neighbourhoods, the Kelowna Downtown Knox Mountain neighbourhood association appears to be much more welcoming.

“Should an appropriate site and operator be found, the (Kelowna Downtown Knox Mountain neighbourhood association) is not opposed to sheltering Kelowna’s homeless population in our neighbourhood,” association president Amanda Poon said in a news release. “Our preference is for a well-managed indoor facility to replace both outdoor temporary camps because the current situation presents risks to shelter clients and surrounding residents alike.”

Last week, the City of Kelowna set up two campsites in the North End of downtown in order to move a homeless tent city off Leon Avenue, where it was deemed a fire risk. One site was at the foot of Knox Mountain and another behind the curling rink on Recreation Avenue.

“We feel these sites do not adequately serve the needs of the homeless population,” states a letter signed by 65 residents and business owners – including the seven directors or the association - that accompanied the news release. “In particular, the Knox Mountain park designated site is lacking in sheltering from the elements and its location is too far from essential services.”

No one has camped at that location.

Those campsites were announced to the homeless, media and neighbours all about the same time Tuesday, Nov. 26, sparking a protest at the Knox Mountain location that evening.

Some residents have suggested legal action against the City and a GoFundMe campaign was launched, aiming to raise $50,000 for legal action.

“Members of our association bring a diverse range of personal and professional experience and have an informed understanding of the complexities of these social issues,” Poon said in the release.

She also said the association is “not associated with any GoFundMe campaign or legal action.”

In contrast, a post on the Rutland for Safe Neighbourhoods Facebook page said it is consulting with lawyers who are working pro bono to put together a legal case against the City and the province for putting supportive housing complexes in its part of the city and will launch a GoFundMe campaign next month to cover costs.

This is the group that collected more than 13,000 signatures from Kelowna residents protesting the construction of the McCurdy Road supportive housing complex. That petition was presented to the provincial government last week and rejected.

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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