Remnants of homeless camp are left behind some trees off of Enterprise Way. (Michael Rodriguez / Kelowna Capital News)

Businesses along Enterprise Way affected by homeless population

‘Kelowna is in desperate need of more supportive housing,’ John Howard Society director says

Businesses along Enterprise Way have long been affected by homeless populations of the area.

But according to some business owners, it has reached a breaking point.

“There’s a few that stop by and always look around,” said Jack Nemeth, owner of McScoots Motorcycle and Scooter Rentals, who has attributed a stolen scooter to the homeless population in the area.

“They’re around for sure,” he said. “They always seem to be going through the parking lot at some point during the day. I can’t afford to be having this.”

Nemeth said it’s “not just me” complaining about the transient population of the area either, following various reports of other businesses in the area being affected.

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Dani Moretto, director of Housing First with the John Howard Society of British Columbia, said businesses need to be a little more compassionate when dealing with homeless people.

“(Enterprise Way has) always been an area where there’s a lot of transient populations and homeless camps. I’m curious why all of a sudden there’s so much attention on it. It seems like after the floods, the city spent a lot of time clearing out the area and now people are more visible because there are fewer places to hide.”

Moretto added that this is also a sign of a more significant issue within Kelowna.

“It shows that Kelowna is in desperate need of more supportive housing, so people don’t have to camp out in the area. They’re not to be seen as an issue or a problem,” Moretto said.”Treating people as humans would go a long way. Mutual respect is very important. If you’re going to approach someone and not be friendly to them because you see them as an issue, they may respond in kind.”

“I’m hopeful that as more supportive housing is built in the city, and more services are created and reaching out to folks that need them that these kinds of issues will decrease,” Moretto added. “Hopefully, we can be supportive to all of our neighbours regardless of whether or not they have housing.”

More information on the John Howard Society of British Columbia can be found here.

Michael Rodriguez
Reporter, Kelowna Capital News
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