A Kelowna bus stop is used as shelter during a cold winter day

A ‘made-in-Kelowna’ homeless strategy

Kelowna city council has approved a plan to create a homemade solution to homelessness.

Kelowna city council has approved a plan to create a “made-in-Kelowna” solution to homelessness.

The new Homeless-Serving Systems Strategy was given the green-light Monday morning after council heard from its new social issues manager Sue Wheeler.

She told council the strategy, based on best practices elsewhere across Canada, will involve looking at what resources are here, what is needed and what is being done now, talking and working with people directly affected, as well as local groups, to address the issue of homelessness in the city.

While it will be tweaked to fit the local picture, one of Wheeler’s goals is to break down the “silos” that currently exist and get everyone working together.

She said the strategy will be based on the very successful model used by Medicine Hat, an Alberta city that announced earlier this year it had successfully ended homelessness.

With council’s approval, a $200,000 proposal will be presented for the project later this month when council considers its 2017 city budget. Wheeler said $125,000 of that will come from taxpayers, with the rest to be added from outside contributions and grants.

In her report, Wheeler said the current focus on developing a comprehensive and well-integrated national plan is encouraging, “however, in the absence of a national strategy, plans to address homelessness and housing insecurity have become a common feature of municipal policy-makers and community-based planning. These plans have contributed to a body of best practices research which Kelowna can draw from.”

While the strategy is expected to take 16 months to complete and be put into action, Wheeler said there will be a number of initiatives taken during that time and pointed to several projects already in place as examples of short-term goals that can be achieved.

She talked about the cart storage locker project spearheaded by the Gospel Mission, having outreach workers go out with bylaw enforcement officers to help people on the street and mental health workers in police cars to help street people with mental health issues get the services they need.

“This is probably the most highly anticipated report we have had in a long time,” said Coun. Brad Sieben who, like his fellow councillors, was very happy with what he heard.

A few councillors talked about how the homeless population in the city has “exploded” this year in Kelowna and the age of those living on the street appears to now be much younger than it was in the past.

Wheeler said homelessness is a wide-ranging issue, noting that statistics from local shelters has estimated that 37 per cent of those who seek a shelter bed, have jobs to go to every day, but do not have a home.

A study in February counted the number of people living on the street in the city at 233, but councillors said they felt that number was way too small because there is always a large influx of transient people who come here in the warmer summer months who have not been recorded.


Just Posted

Reel Reviews: Fear or love

We say, “Once again, one worth seeing, one not.”

Two people safe after falling through ice

Kelowna Fire Department urges caution around icy waters during warm weather

Missing Kelowna woman sought

RCMP are asking for assistance in locating Christine Olsen-Meissnitzer

Plane lands safely after takeoff issue

An airplane departing Kelowna International Airport had an issue with a landing gear, landed safely

KSS rocks and rolls for 37th straight year

Kelowna secondary students let loose with annual Air Bank competition

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Anti-pipeline protestors block Kinder Morgan tanker near Seattle

Protest was spurred on by the 28 anti-Kinder Morgan activists arrested in Burnaby

Captain Cal Foote is Rockets’ MVP

The Rockets hand out their annual team awards Sunday at Kelowna Community Theatre

Some surprises in new book about B.C. labour movement

“On the Line” charts history of the union movement back to the 1800s

Cancer fundraiser takes to Okanagan Lake

Penticton and Naramata joining growing fundraising event

Elke’s Garden Tips: Good time to prepare

Lake Country garden columnist talks about what to do at this time of the year

Letter: Crying fowl over goose cull witness

Kelowna letter-writer says Canada geese come with many issues

Letter: I was born in Kelowna in 1930…

Kelowna letter-writer has some ideas on how things should run nowadays

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Most Read