Members of the Kelowna’s Journey Home Task Force presented to West Kelowna council in hopes to address homelessness on the Westside.
Kelowna social development manager Sue Wheeler presented the $47 million strategy that was implemented in Kelowna on June 25. Wheeler has been working alongside Diane Roy of the West Bank First Nation and local shelters to help tackle homelessness in West Kelowna as part of the regionalization of the strategy.
The five-year program that was designed to address homelessness in Kelowna utilizes “the strong voices of those that have experienced the system” to find a way to end the cycle. The task force focuses on eliminating episodic and chronic homelessness through a multi-faceted approach. The plan also has a Way Home youth program embedded within it to prevent the cycle from beginning at a young age. Eventually housing that would be staffed 24 hours a day would be built to help people transition from homelessness back into society, or stay as long as they need without a time limit.
While West Kelowna council concedes there are homeless people the city, it says it does not have the same “issue” as the city of Kelowna.
The Emmanuel Church was straining its capacity over the winter to serve the homeless population with 25 beds. It said there are at least 40 to 50 people who are homeless in the community that they had to feed and turn away for the evening.
“We are still determining what we do. We have provided a small amount of funding for the shelter society to do some good work during the very limited season they do but, I also think certainly the scale of the problem in West Kelowna is vastly different then that of Kelowna,” Mayor Doug Findlater said.
“We definitely have to look at what we can do to prevent something like that (situation on Leon Avenue in Kelowna) from developing here.”
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