Kelowna city councillor-elect Loyal Wooldridge celebrated his 33rd birthday earlier this week. During the orientation session at city hall for the incoming council, his new colleagues, all re-elected incumbents, presented him with a birthday cake. Pictured are (from right to left) Councillors Ryan Donn, Luke Stack, Gail Given, Brad Sieben, Charlie Hodge, Maxine DeHart, Wooldridge, Mohini Singh and Mayor Colin Basran. —Image: contributed

New Kelowna city councillor sees homelessness strategy as top council priority

Councillor-elect Loyal Wooldridge says ongoing implementing of Journey Home strategy is crucial

He may be the “new kid on the block” but Kelowna city councillor-elect Loyal Wooldridge says for him, it’s clear what the top issue facing the incoming council is—the ongoing implementation of the city’s Journey Home strategy to address homelessness.

He said with the expected closing of the Inn From the Cold shelter and the Cornerstone shelter on Leon Avenue downtown in a few years, decisions concerning the strategy will be imperative.

With the planning done and the strategy now being implemented, Wooldridge expects the incoming council will be faced with a number of tough decisions and spending issues to deal with in order to meet the strategy’s goals.

“There will be issues and there will be challenges,” he said, but added he feels Journey Home is a good strategy and will address one of the largest social issues currently affecting not only his city, but communities across the region and the country.

In West Kelowna, another new city councillor also also placed the issue of addressing homelessness at the top of the priority list for his city’s incoming council.

Councillor-elect Jayson Zilkie said Thursday providing a homeless shelter in the community for this winter needs immediate attention. A special council meeting has been scheduled for Nov. 8 to address the issue, just 48 hours after the new mayor and council are to be sworn into office.

Back on the Kelowna side of the lake, Wooldridge said the rest of the country is watching to see the impact of the Journey Home strategy, especially in light of the fact it goes beyond simply housing the homeless.

“The wrap-around support services are crucial,” he said. “Housing First cannot be housing only.”

Wooldridge, who attended more than 20 council meetings in preparation for running in the Oct. 20 civic election and worked his way through a mountain of research on a host of municipal issues, said he’s happy with the previous council’s efforts to secure funding from senior levels of government for support services to augment Journey Home.

But he said the conversation is not one that ended with the introduction of the strategy.

While the homeless issue is a top priority for him, Wooldridge was not a single issue candidate during the election.

He said other priorities for him are development, or rather redevelopment, the Official Community Plan review and the accompanying Transportation Master Plan the city is working on.

Single-family homes may have been considered a “birthright” in Kelowna in the past, said Wooldridge, but the city is changing and so are the ways residents want to live.

“We need more different styles in the (housing) inventory and a paradigm shift in behaviour when it comes to transportation,” he said. “It’s the only way we will stop sprawl.”

The new Kelowna city council, made up of Wooldridge and returning Councillors Maxine DeHart, Gail Given, Luke Stack, Brad Sieben, Charlie Hodge, Mohini Singh, Ryan Donn and returning Mayor Colin Basran, will be sworn into office Monday, Nov. 5, in a ceremony at the Rotary Centre for the Arts.

The ceremony, open to the public, will start at 7 p.m and be followed by a brief inaugural meeting and a public reception.

To report a typo, email:


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Benches made from wood that posed a fire risk in Lake Country

The parks team is making benches from the trees removed from the Jack Seaton Park

Rutland pride spills over

Reaction to a story this weekend was clear and worth a second read

Family Day move a welcome change: poll

Okanagan readers voted that the new date for Family Day in B.C. is a positive change

Huge crack and bang heard as Wood Lake fractures

‘It was roaring across the lake,’ Lake Country woman recounts sound of crack in Wood Lake ice

Former Prime Minister comes to Kelowna

Stephen Harper will speak in Kelowna March 12

‘Just like Iron Man’: Calgary surgeon undergoes experimental spinal surgery

Dr. Richi Gill was in a freak accident on a boogie board during a family vacation in Hawaii

Deported B.C. man who came to Canada as a baby granted chance at return

Lee Van Heest was deported to the Netherlands in 2017

A Mother’s Wish: Ryan Shtuka’s mother wants her son to be ‘forever known’

‍‍‍‍‍“Let me tell you a story …. it all began with a boy named Ryan”

Sex abuse survivors to meet with Vatican summit organizers

Pope Francis has urged participants to meet with abuse victims before they came to Rome

Ex-FBI official: ‘Crime may have been committed’ by Trump

Andrew McCabe said FBI had good reason to open a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was in league with Russia

Okanagan College professor awarded for promoting financial literacy

Leigh Sindlinger received a Distinguished Service Award for inspiring financial literacy in youth

Poll: What do you think of Family Day weekend’s move?

Until this year, Family Day has fallen on the second Monday in February

Most Read