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Pandosy social housing project now a reality
Born in controversy two years ago, a $10.1 million supportive housing project for women and children in South Pandosy is now being welcomed to the neighbour by area businesses, some of whom were vocal in their opposition to it before the project got started.
NOW Canada’s Tutt Street Place, a 39-unit apartment building, was officially opened Friday after being in operation and housing 31 women and 29 children for a few months.
According to NOW Canada’s Liz Talbott, the welcome the facility has received from the neighbourhood has been very good and two area businesses, Kelowna Cycle and Tutt Street Optometry, have even held fundraisers for it.
“We actually have a very good relationship with our neighbours,” said Talbott during the ribbon cutting ceremony. It was the only reference to the rocky start the project endured.
Tutt Street Place provides shelter for women and their children who are in need and are homeless.
In addition to the apartments it provides, there are also laundry facilities for residents, a playground for kids and resources for their mothers. The facility is located close to an elementary school, shops and is on a public transportation route.
Talbott said Tutt Street Place gives its residents just what they need to help turn their lives around.
“It gives them opportunity. It gives them life. It gives them a home,” she said.
Funded by the federal and provincial governments and the city, the facility is the second of four supportive housing developments in Kelowna paid for under an agreement between Ottawa and Victoria.
The first was the Cardington Apartments downtown—another facility that area businesses protested against before it was built. The second was Willowbridge, a facility operated by Canadian Mental Health at Highway 97 and Pandosy Street. The fourth will be a similar facility to be operated by the John Howard Society in Rutland. That facility, New Gate Apartments, is under construction and expected to be complete in 2012.
“Kelowna, like many cities in our province, is facing the challenge of homelessness head on,” said Kelowna Mayor Sharon Shepherd, talking about the projects. “I’m so pleased to see Tutt Street Place open and already helping some of the most vulnerable citizens of our city. It’s only when all partners work together that we can make a difference in the community.”
The city provided the land, a former parking lot, for the project.
Two years ago, many in the area, including many business owners, protested against locating the facility where it is in South Pandosy, saying the parking lot it replaced was needed in the area and that the facility would not be a good fit for the neighbourhood.
But on Friday those protests seemed like a distant memory. There was no talk of the opposition to Tutt Street Place and no sign of the ill feelings that were voiced in 2009.