More winter shelter spaces in Kelowna

The province is funding 20 new winter shelter spaces in Kelowna

Kelowna’s old foodbank will temporarily be repurposed as a homeless shelter.

Responding to the extreme cold weather conditions, the provincial government announced Monday that it will be funding 20 new shelter spaces that will open tonight at 10 p.m..

With the support of the City of Kelowna, Interior Health and Metro, the =10-hour-a-day shelter at 1265 Ellis St. will allow people to access washrooms, laundry facilities, snacks, warm drinks and community services. The shelter is being managed by the John Howard Society of Central and South Okanagan and will have at least two staff members on-site to help people come in from the cold.

While Kelowna shelters have been running at capacity, there have been very few instances when they’ve had to turn someone away.

READ ALSO: SHELTERS RUN AT CAPACITY

Across the bridge in West Kelowna, however, conditions have been worse.

Carly Shipmaker, manager with the West Kelowna Shelter Society, said the society’s shelter on Brown Road has been operating at capacity since it opened this winter and now as needs rise they aren’t able to keep up.

“We have been turning people away, unfortunately,” Shipmaker said, noting the season started out slow but the cold snap created more need. “I would say at least a few people a day.”

The shelter has been operated in the Westbank United Church by the West Kelowna Shelter Society for the past four years.

“We started out with just mats on the floor and we were at 30 beds,” Shipmaker said, adding since Inn from the Cold’s closure, the shelter has increased its capacity to 38. Some people who prefer to be outside are now moving indoors because of the cold, she said.

These newly announced bed may help alleviate that issue.

These shelter spaces are in addition to the 80 year-round shelter spaces and 80 temporary shelters available throughout the City of Kelowna.

In addition to shelter spaces, the Province’s Building BC program is funding 4,500 new supportive housing units throughout the province for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

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