A man sitting outside of his tent on Leon Avenue on Nov. 1, 2019. (Michael Rodriguez - Kelowna Capital News)

Kelowna homeless to demand improvements to their living conditions

Homeless residents of Kelowna’s tent city on Leon Avenue are calling a press conference on Nov. 12

People experiencing homelessness on Leon Avenue will be holding a press conference this afternoon to demand better treatment from the city.

The press conference is set for 1:30 p.m. today at the corner of Leon Avenue and Abbott Street.

Over the weekend, homeless leaders collected signatures from people residing on Leon Avenue to gauge support for four demands: housing, no cops in said housing, no further theft of their belongings and safer heating.

“People on the strip have been told ‘everyone will have to move into the shelter’ when the mat program starts later this month,” stated a release from homeless advocacy group Alliance Against Displacement (AAD).

“But a shelter is not a home and not a suitable alternative to a tent city because shelters can be even more unsafe and insecure than the streets.”

The release added that with only 40 beds opening and over a hundred people on the Leon strip, the mat program will not offer enough beds. The organization also said the city should “buy a hotel for immediate housing and let people outside after the mat program opens stay on the Leon strip.”

READ MORE: Fireworks allegedly shot at Kelowna homeless encampment

READ MORE: RCMP evict homeless people camping on Leon Avenue

According to AAD, police and bylaw officers often act “entitled” to invade the homes of people living on Leon and in turn violate Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“We demand that police and bylaw follow the law and respect our tents as our private domiciles, entering them only when we give explicit written permission, or under the same conditions that would allow them to enter a private apartment or house.”

AAD also alleges that officers regularly steal the belongings of unhoused people on Leon, labelling them as “abandoned” or “excessive” and subsequently throwing them away.

“Police do not have the authority to decide what is appropriate for us to possess. Section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees us the right to protect our personal property along with our general security of body, wellbeing, and person.”

Also among the demands are electrical outlets at each tent to run safer electric heaters rather than propane heaters, which are allegedly often confiscated by officers.


@michaelrdrguez
michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

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