A new temporary shelter will be in place in West Kelowna after the United Church property was sold.
The City of West Kelowna authorized the temporary use of 2515 Bartley Road for up to three years to replace the United Church location, which will close in August.
The city’s development services director Mark Koch said that the property will be used for shelter and to provide support services for the city’s residents experiencing homelessness.
“The particular proposal is to allow up to 40 residents experiencing homelessness within the community… the proposal BC Housing is putting forward is to put an office space for the wraparound services,” he said.
“Along with it will be a kitchen, laundry room, amenity spaces, meeting spaces and of course spaces for those services to be provided.”
The new temporary shelter will be operated by Turning Points Collaborative, led by BC Housing.
With the sale of the current shelter and the growing number of those without homes in the city, Koch said there is urgency in deciding where the new temporary shelter will be and to get it ready.
“There is a temporary emergency shelter at the Super 8 Hotel and that has been in place through the COVID funding from the provincial government,” he said.
But that shelter is at capacity, with funding for it scheduled to end in March 2022.
Coun. Doug Findlater said he’s concerned about where the people currently sheltering at the church will go once it closes on Aug. 1 and while the new temporary shelter is still being built.
The city’s community supports specialist Jen Kanters said the project is a priority for her and that she’s working closely with BC Housing on getting it off the ground while at the same time providing interim housing for the residents when the church closes.
“We do have some solutions (to fill that gap) and we are going to be really excited to share those with council once they are finalized,” she said.
Mayor Gord Milsom said residents who don’t have homes have complex needs and need housing and support urgently.
“The housing that’s going to be available for them in this new facility… is going to be better housing than what they have now,” he said.
“I know there’s challenges. We know what they are… we’ve been working tirelessly as a municipality to do what we can to help our most vulnerable citizens. I don’t think we should back off on this at all, I fully support this temporary solution.”
The new facility will be different from the church shelter in that each resident will have their own living unit. Support will be available 24/7, three meals provided each day, as well as overdose prevention on-site.
The shelter is scheduled to open this fall.