Bylaw staff with the City of Kelowna remove an average of 800 lbs of discarded items every day from the temporary homeless shelter set up on Recreation Avenue. (Kelowna Capital News)

Bylaw staff with the City of Kelowna remove an average of 800 lbs of discarded items every day from the temporary homeless shelter set up on Recreation Avenue. (Kelowna Capital News)

City of Kelowna defends removing material from homeless camp

Director of community safety says it’s a difficult, but necessary task

Every single day bylaw staff with the City of Kelowna remove an average of 800 lbs of discarded items from one of the new homeless camps set up in the north end of the city due to safety concerns.

Darren Caul, director of community safety, said it’s a difficult, but necessary task to remove the abandoned items found at the temporary site located on Recreation Avenue.

“People who live without homes operate from a state of scarcity and so they quite naturally and expectedly collect,” said Caul.

“The amount of material and unclaimed property generated on a daily basis is well beyond what is manageable or compatible with a temporary overnight shelter site.”

He said each person who uses the site can safely store their items in two large recycling bins on wheels, which are then stored inside a shipping container. Each bin has their name and date attached to it.

“If they are not accessed or used within three days they are deemed abandoned and disposed of,” said Caul, adding most shelters only offer to store a single rubber made bin per person.

That being said, if there are items of value, including sentimental value, those items may be stored separately and are accessible for people to retrieve within 30 days.

Due to health and safety hazards, he said bylaw staff can not go through bags that are left behind nor can abandoned items be reused by other people.

READ MORE: WATCH: Kelowna bylaw officers throwing away items belonging to homeless

READ MORE: Residents rally to support those experiencing homelessness in Kelowna

His comments follow the publication of a video on Dec. 4 that showed bylaw officers and city employees allegedly throwing away people’s belongings, including mattresses and tents, drawing the ire from many on social media.

“Not even caring about what is being thrown out, they just deem it all garbage, but is it? No, it’s perfectly usable items for anyone,” said Facebook user Derek Foreel, who uploaded the video.

Caul described the situation as extremely complex, adding that on Leon Avenue where people experiencing homelessness were previously living the city removed an average of 1,200 lbs of material a day.

“The context is really, really important for people to understand the complexities of what it is they are seeing,” said Caul.

“The video depicts just another one of the complexities of those living without homes on our streets and of those who are trying to manage a very difficult issue,” said Caul.

He urged people who have been donating items at the site to drop items off at an agency or non-profit organization that is equipped to handle donated items.

“We absolutely recognize and frankly it’s wonderful to see the level of attention and generosity among the people of Kelowna wanting to donate at the site for people living without homes, but we ask people to redirect that generosity to the many agencies in our city that are directly involved in supporting and serving people living without homes year-round,” said Caul.

“Many of the donations are not compatible with a temporary overnight shelter site and while well intentioned some of these donations create unintended challenges and consequences.”

For example, he said people donating food may not be aware of other people’s allergies.

READ MORE: Kelowna to open temporary housing to help homeless

READ MORE: Knox Mountain, north end Kelowna residents gather to petition city over homeless camp

He welcomed news earlier this week from B.C. Housing and the John Howard Society of Okanagan Kootenay that it would be opening up a temporary shelter with 40 beds at a city-owned property.

The building, located at 555 Fuller Avenue, will temporarily house 40 people who already have beds at Cornerstone shelter and the Kelowna Gospel Mission to free up space at those two shelters for those who are currently out on the streets or camping at Recreation Avenue.

“That is a very welcomed and necessary announcement that will make a very significant and positive impact for those living without homes on our streets,” said Caul, adding the temporary shelters set up on Recreation Avenue and at the base of Knox Mountain will remain open for as long as needed.

“As long as we have more people on our streets living without homes than we do shelter space, people will continue to have the legal right to shelter overnight in our designated spaces.”


Paul Clarke
Assistant bureau chief, B.C. Interior South Division
Email me at paul.clarke@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

Just Posted

Osprey on the Rail Trail. (Image/Tom Skinner)
 Osprey on the Rail Trail. (Image/Tom Skinner)
 Osprey on the Rail Trail. (Image/Tom Skinner)
Birds take flight across the Okanagan

Ospreys are spotted above the Rail Trail in Lake Country

Michelle Jacobs receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Coast Capri Hotel on April 28, 2021. The pop-up clinic was hosted by the First Nations Health Authority. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
126 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

There are 22 individuals hospitalized due to the virus, and 13 in intensive care

(File photo)
Repeated cougar sighting on Okanagan Rail Trail

Plenty of bear sightings around the valley too

Cassie Bonthoux and James Nelson (Contributed/Facebook)
Kelowna dealer who operated international dark web drug ring denied appeal

The BC Court of Appeal denied James Nelson an appeal on his 11-year prison sentence

WildSafeBC is reminding residents to keep manage wildlife attractants on their property. (WildSafeBC Central Okanagan)
WildSafeBC reminds residents to manage attractants as bears spotted in Okanagan

The most prominent reminder is to keep garbage secured indoors until collection day

Staff-Sgt. Svend Nielsen, with the 100 Mile House RCMP. (Melissa Smalley - 100 Mile Free Press)
14-year-old boy killed in serious ATV crash near 100 Mile House

Youth was travelling with a group of peers when the incident occurred last Friday

KCR Migrant Support Worker, Javier, had an exciting day escorting his son Ian with him during ‘Take your Child to Work Day’!
KCR: Volunteering is being part of a whole

KCR Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

Relief is coming for B.C.’s struggling tourism sector. (NEWS file photo)
B.C. officials set to announce more support for tourism sector hit hard by pandemic

Non-essential travel is restricted between three regional zones in B.C. until at least May 24

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Nathalie Emmanuel, left, and Vin Diesel in a scene from “F9.” (Giles Keyte/Universal Pictures via AP)
The blockbuster movie is making a comeback this summer

Excitement in the industry is growing again for a return to a big-screen normal

Barriere RCMP nabbed two suspects who were allegedly breaking into cabins in McLure. (File photo)
Thieves nabbed by Barriere Mounties during McLure break-ins

Police Service Dog Kody instrumental in making the arrest

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

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Most Read