Province to spend $2.4M annually to keep Kelowna’s Cornerstone shelter open

Province announces $2.4 million a year to keep downtown Kelowna shelter open until new housing built

In efforts to ensure everyone has a safe place to stay each night, the province announced it will spend $2.4 million a year to keep Kelowna’s Cornerstone shelter operation downtown running until permanent housing options are established.

The 80-bed shelter on Leon Avenue was slotted to close on June 30, but with the additional funding, it will remain open until another location is found, or until people are relocated and housed.

The City of Kelowna still intends to close Cornerstone, but only after appropriate, purpose-built facilities are established.

“We understand and share the frustration of the community around the Cornerstone shelter, but if we close now, it would pose a greater risk of impact to the community and the residents of Cornerstone,” the city’s director of community safety Lance Kayfish said in a release.

“Not only are people provided with shelter, but the supports inside the shelter save lives.”

The Downtown Kelowna Association (DKA) voiced its disappointment regarding the announcement in a release. The DKA said although it disagrees with the location of Cornerstone, “the DKA does fully support the efforts of BC Housing, the City of Kelowna, the Journey Home Society and others to establish short-, medium- and long-term housing solutions for Kelowna’s homeless population.”

READ MORE: 7 overdoses in 1 day at Kelowna homeless shelter

The city, BC Housing and Journey Home alongside other community partners have established 390 units of supportive housing in the community since 2008, Cornerstone is still a necessary resource as it meets a significant need in Kelowna.

“Shelter is a basic need for human health,” said Dr. Silvina Mema with Interior Health. “Additionally, in light of the ongoing illicit opioid overdose public health emergency, the shelter provides a safe space for people to be supervised and get connected to life-saving services.”

BC Housing and the John Howard Society — the shelter’s operator — have relocated a number of Cornerstone guests to new supportive housing units, but Kayfish said the shelter must remain operational until all residents can be transitioned to new accommodations.

“We recognize that this is not ideal,” Kayfish said. “But as a community, we must provide service to our most vulnerable, while balancing community safety.”

“We have plans in place to mitigate the impact as much as possible.”

Since 2008, over 390 units of supportive housing have already been built, or are currently under development to help the community’s vulnerable population, and BC Housing’s regional director, Ann Howard, said the “Journey Home Strategy” is working.

READ MORE: Kelowna chamber feels ‘misled’ about downtown shelter

“Since 2018, approximately 140 people now have homes where they are provided supports,” she said, adding another two projects are underway in Kelowna that will house approximately another 100 people. “Until more housing is available, shelters like Cornerstone saves lives, connections to services and provide people with hope of a better future.”

The city, BC Housing and the Journey Home Society recognize the need for supportive housing in Kelowna is high — currently there are over 500 people on a waitlist — and the organizations are working quickly to secure the “maximum number of units possible in a very short time frame,” Gaelene Askeland, executive director of Central Okanagan Journey Home Society said.

“We are also one of the few communities to have a concrete plan to address homelessness… This is a Kelowna-made strategy, developed by the community and it is targeted, realistic and measurable.”

The DKA will continue advocating for alternative locations and will continue to engage and “work alongside community partners to address the long-term needs of our city’s homeless population,” the release stated.


Caitlin Clow
Reporter, Kelowna Capital News
Email me at caitlin.clow@kelownacapnews.com
Follow us on Facebook | Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Pilot project aims to boost entrepreneurial women in the Okanagan

W Venture, a collaborative project, is open for applications until the end of July

Cyclist struck by vehicle in West Kelowna

The cyclist was transported to hospital by ambulance

Police searching for missing Lake Country man

David Anthony Jenken, 65, was reported missing Friday and was last seen on June 28

‘Justice for Mona’ protests planned in Kelowna, Lower Mainland

Security camera footage shows Mona Wang being dragged, stepped on during RCMP wellness check

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Shuswap resident spots waterspout near Salmon Arm

The rare weather event was spotted early in the morning on July 4.

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

Seymour Arm landslide interrupts drinking water to 500 people

The July 3 slide damaged a water system and a logging road.

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Most Read