A 23-member task force has been working on a strategy to address homelessness in Kelowna, with the co-chair of that task force set to present their findings to theKelowna South-Central Association of Neighbourhoods annual general meeting on Thursday. Photo: contributed

Homelessness issue resonates with Kelowna neighbourhood

Task force co-chair to speak at KSCAN annual general meeting

Residents surrounding Kelowna’s downtown core live on the impact front-lines of the city’s homelessness issue.

Kelowna South-Central Association of Neighbourhoods members see first-hand homeless people suffering from drug addiction or mental illness wandering around their streets, parks and lakefront beaches looking for shelter.

‘We have a lot of people who end up sleeping in our back alleys, along the creeks that flow through our neighbourhood and the area parks,” said area resident Debbie Helf.

“We all talk quite a bit about it. People find the disposed needles on the ground in our neighbourhood and we have the lake beach frontage. From a humanitarian point of view, our society needs to take care of these people.”

Related: Public urged to get involved in homelessness issue discussion

The guest speaker at the KSCAN annual general meeting on Thursday will be Martin Bell, co-chair of the Journey Home Task Force struck by the city to address the homelessness issue and develop a program of solutions.

Helf said she will be interested to hear what Bell has to say as the task force has spent the last year making 1,850 points of engagement through workshops with stakeholders, public surveys and talking with those within “the homeless lived experience circle.”

‘We will be fascinated to see what they ultimately come up with for solutions,” Helf said.

“It’s something that has to be done.”

Related: Ending homelessness in Kelowna a tall order

The KSCAN annual general meeting takes place June 14, 7 p.m., at the historic Knowles House, 865 Bernard Ave.

The task force is expected to submit a final report to council this month outlining initiatives to address homelessness in Kelowna, how much those initiatives will cost and where to pursue funding support.

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