Gaelene Askland has quit as Journey Home Society executive director after six months on the job. (Capital News file)

Gaelene Askland has quit as Journey Home Society executive director after six months on the job. (Capital News file)

Kelowna’s Journey Home executive director quits

Gaylene Askland was on the job for just six months, leading the city’s strategy to fight homelessness

After just six months on the job, the executive director of Kelowna’s Journey Home Society, Gaelene Askland has resigned.

Askland, who was hired after seven years working with non-profit organizations, was tasked with leading the day-to-day operations of the society as it implements the city’s effort to deal with homelessness in Kelowna.

She will leave her position with Journey Home Aug. 23.

No reason was given for her sudden departure but a statement from the society said Askland planned to pursue other opportunities.

In the statement, Askland was credited with laying the operational foundations, starting to build critical relationships and setting up the organization for success in relation to the 35 specific actions in the Journey Home strategy.

“Gaelene’s contributions have positioned the organization well for the journey ahead. The board recognizes the need to maintain momentum at this crucial time. With the diversity of strengths and sectors that are committed to ensuring the success of Journey Home, we are well positioned to mobilize and support the transition and work to determine who will lead the organization in the next phase,” says the statement.

READ MORE: At the helm of the Journey Home Society

When she was hired, Askland said she was thrilled to get the job and looked forward to implementing the strategy to address homelessness in our community.

“We have an amazing opportunity to pull the community together and find creative solutions to challenges that our whole country is facing,” she said at the time. “We have a significant task ahead of us but the strategy is in place and the time is right to get it done.”

But six months later she is leaving amid controversy in some areas of the city over provincially funded supportive housing project that provide homes for formerly homeless people, most of which allow drug use on-site.

Journey Home officials have conceded the organizations has faced heated lobbying and protests from those opposed to the supportive housing, which is called for in the Journey Home strategy.

In the statement from the society, it says under Askland’s leadership, several important collaborative projects got underway, projects that will improve the lives of those without homes. They include service mapping, shelter design, joint research efforts, and activities designed to build understanding and empathy.

“The Lived Experience Circle on Homelessness and Youth Advocates for Housing are making valuable contributions and shaping our work,” says the statement.

“This includes the launch of PEOPLE, a social enterprise that provides employment services supporting those with lived and living experience of homelessness with meaningful opportunities to contribute in community and business settings. We are also engaged in and learning from national networks such as Built for Zero and the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.”

Phone calls seeking comment on Askland’s departure to Journey Home co-chairs Kyleen Myrah and Martin Bell were not immediately returned.

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