An RDCO housing assessment shows waitlist times for affordable housing have increased 109 per cent since 2012 (file)

An RDCO housing assessment shows waitlist times for affordable housing have increased 109 per cent since 2012 (file)

Downtown Kelowna business owner voices outrage over homelessness issue

Business owner, Downtown Kelowna Association representative swap heated email exchange over problem

A downtown Kelowna business owner is voicing her anger over what she said is increasing instances of violence occurring around her store from people who appear to be experiencing homelessness.

Raegan Hall — owner of Blond Women’s Retail Boutique in Kelowna for 16 years — sent an open letter to the Kelowna Downtown Business Association over the matter on Thursday afternoon.

READ MORE: Consultant puts Kelowna homeless count close to 2,000

In the letter, Hall said many of her employees have become increasingly frustrated and scared over the daily incidents they’ve had with people in the downtown core. Here is her email as written:

Hello, again…

My name is Raegan Hall and I have been a downtown business of Blonde Women’s Retail Boutique for 16 years. From the trenches I can tell you that the daily condition of our downtown has never been such a disappointing embarrassment. Every day my employees report incidents of horrifying hassles from unsavory clientele whose only purpose when they come inside my store is to hurl insults and terrify my staff and customers, and steal.

These unfortunate residents have taken over. They have more rights than tax paying residents. These are not weekly or monthly disturbances, they are DAILY. My employees are terrified to come to work, and locals are coming downtown less and less because of this particular issue. Fortunately my business thrives in the summer when the tourists brave the streets, but even they are electing to visit alternative destinations because of the increasingly sketchy Kelowna vibe. I have travelled extensively and have always treasured visiting the downtown heart of cities and communities.

Downtowns are important, and this is why I originally invested in Kelowna’s in 2004. Approximately 180 businesses have closed or relocated from our downtown since I started my business. If this homeless and drug infested population does not get handled swiftly and properly, our once vibrant downtown is going to become a ghost town overrun with what looks to me like a zombie apocalypse.

I am sensitive to the predicament of these individuals, and the solution is simple, relocate the Gospel Mission. Our community is growing at a whiplash pace, so the faster that this relocation can happen, the better.

How can I help?

In an email response back to Hall three hours later, Downtown Kelowna Association executive director Mark Burley said the incident is a widespread problem not just being dealt with by the Gospel Mission.

While Burley acknowledged that the issue has been frustrating for all, his email highlighted at least one initiative that the city is doing to deal with with the escalating situation. Here is his response:

Hi Reagan.

Thanks for your email.

The Downtown Kelowna Association is constantly working for and advocating on behalf of all Downtown Kelowna businesses. We consistently deal with the types of individuals that you refer to in your email. It is a widespread problem in Downtown and affects us with more frequency closer to Leon.

This issue is multifaceted and very frustrating for all. The Downtown Kelowna Association’s Downtown on Call and Clean Teams are out there every day doing the best they can to deal with situations and people that present issues they aren’t meant to deal with. But they do.

The presence of the Gospel Mission in Downtown Kelowna is one that has been here for 40 years. As the social issues change the influx of people to their facility has grown immensely. This is just one more facet of the social issue that we are dealing with.

The DKA is in constant contact with the city and continue to work to affect some change for all of us who work, live and own business in Downtown Kelowna.

I will continue to update the membership with any news as it becomes available.

Thanks.

Mark Burley

Downtown Kelowna Association

Adding to the issue, a recently-published Regional District Central Okanagan housing assessment showed waitlistst for affordable housing has increased by 109 per cent since 2012.

Out of that 259 applicant waitlist, 42 per cent are low-income seniors.


@connortrembley
connor.trembley@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

grapes.
Morning Start: Grapes light on fire in the microwave

Your morning start for Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020

Grey Man recovering after having his leg amputated. AlleyCats, Facebook.
Cat allegedly shot by pellet gun in Oliver has leg amputated

Kelowna Veterinary Hospital performed an emergency surgery to remove the leg

A man wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Vancouver on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
212 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

A total of 490 cases remain active; 15 in hospital

This is the third year Raymond Imbeau and Barbara Kitz have picked up cans in the backcountry and donated the proceeds to COSAR. (Central Okanagan Search and Rescue)
Kelowna couple cleans forests for Central Okanagan Search and Rescue

Raymond Imbeau and Barbara Kitz donated $3,200 to COSAR

Lights will be on display for the annual Candy Cane Lane in Rutland until Jan. 1. - Mackenzie Britton/Capital News
Kelowna’s Candy Cane Lane to celebrate a decade of holiday lights

The event will run from Dec. 1 to Jan. 1, 2021

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

Paramedics register patients at a drive through, pop-up COVID-19 test centre outside the Canadian Tire Centre, home of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, in Ottawa, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians aren’t currently worried that people in other countries might get a COVID-19 vaccine first. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Canadians not worried other countries will get COVID-19 vaccine first: poll

Forty-one per cent of respondents say they want the vaccine to be mandatory for all Canadians

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Join Rob Dinwoodie and bandmates for a Cowboy Christmas, Dec. 11 and 12 at Vernon and District Performing Arts Center. Seating is cabaret style on the stage for an intimate concert. (Contributed)
North Okanagan cowboys go virtual for Christmas

Cowboy Christmas streamed Dec. 11-25

Vernon is getting in the Christmas spirit with many homes decorating with lights and extras. (Caitlin Clow - Morning Star)
Christmas lights tour mapped out by Vernon Realtor

More than 20 of the community’s best-lit houses make up annual tradition

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Most Read