The West Kelowna Shelter Society operates out of the Westbank United Church. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News staff)

The West Kelowna Shelter Society operates out of the Westbank United Church. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News staff)

Enough shelter spaces as temperatures dip in Kelowna, West Kelowna

Local advocates say this is thanks to collaboration between various agencies

Every time the mercury dips below freezing, advocates and shelter volunteers often worry about residents who are experiencing homelessness, however, this year there is less to be concerned about.

Kelowna’s Gospel Mission executive director Carmen Rempel said compared to past years, shelters in the city are a lot more prepared, with enough beds for those who need to get out of the harsh overnight temperatures.

“Our shelters are full and they have been full and as we added beds, they’ve continuously filled up,” Rempel said.

“I don’t think there have been very many nights at all where we haven’t been completely maxed out. Our understanding is that everybody who wants to be inside can be inside this winter.”

The biggest change, she said, is that more people want to stay indoors throughout the day instead of just coming to the shelters at night time.

She said different agencies in Kelowna and West Kelowna, in collaboration with B.C. Housing and Journey Home, have all worked hard in keeping people warm as temperatures continue to dip.

Metro Community’s executive director Amber Webster Kotak said the Welcome Inn’s 39 beds have all been occupied since opening in November, but they have also seen some small changes.

“I would say we are certainly seeing those people who are the last to come in, starting to seek shelter a bit more keenly this time around, asking if they can get a bed with us or asking where else they can get a bed,” she said.

“Right now, we’re enjoying a great sense of collaboration between the various emergency winter shelters and the existing shelters.”

She said shelter guests are also more likely to stay indoors all day, but some still leave to go about their day.

Environment Canada issued a special weather statement for the Central Okanagan forecasting temperatures in the region to be between 10 and 20 degrees cooler than seasonal average.

An Arctic outflow warning is possible beginning Wednesday (Feb. 10) night as wind chill values approach – 20 C.

Shelters in both Kelowna and West Kelowna are always open to help and this season, they’re asking for warm clothes and other items like hand warmers, gloves, and toques. The West Kelowna Shelter Society launched its Backpack Essentials program in January and is still looking for items to fill backpacks for use by those living in the streets.

Clothing donations to the Mission can be dropped off at their thrift store on Roxby Road in Rutland. Donations to the Welcome Inn can be dropped off at the shelter.

READ: Experts say race for COVID drugs dogged by false promises, lack of co-ordination


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

Homeless

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

Just Posted

(Tesla)
New Tesla charging station launches in West Kelowna

This comes after the installation of a Tesla charging station in Kelowna

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kelowna General Hospital

One patient and one staff member on Unit have tested positive for the virus.

Fire ripped through a mobile home on Boucherie Road in West Kelowna on March. 6. (Phil McLachlan - West Kelowna News)
‘My whole life just went up in smoke’; Fire consumes West Kelowna mobile home

RCMP confirmed that there were no injuries due to the fire

A COVID-19 exposure has been confirmed at Pearson Road Elementary in Rutland Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Barry Gerding - Black Press Media)
COVID-19 exposures at Kelowna elementary school

Interior Health confirms virus exposures at Pearson Road Elementary

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Multiple people were injured at a Vernon home following an early-morning break-in Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Black Press file photo)
Multiple people left injured following break-and-enter in Vernon

Police believe the early-morning break-in was targeted and not a threat to the general public

Isaac Gilbert is running for council in the by-election for Jake Kimberley’s vacated seat. (Submitted)
First candidate for Penticton council by-election makes himself known

Isaac Gilbert is making a second run at council after receiving 19.63 per cent of the vote in 2018

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

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

Most Read