West Kelowna council passes two motions in first meeting after inauguration

Social housing funding and Agricultural Land Reserve exemptions were on the agenda.

  • Nov. 9, 2018 11:30 a.m.

With winter knocking on the Okanagan’s door, West Kelowna’s city council has made steps toward preparing for the cold months for the area’s homeless.

At the first council meeting since the Nov. 6 inauguration, the new West Kelowna mayor Gord Milsom and city council approved an allocation of $50,000 in hopes of using the money, from the city’s budget surplus, to fund advocacy, engagement and to find land for social housing and services in 2018-2019.

Milsom says that the money will expand the abilities to address homelessness on the Westside through possible contract services. The city will be working toward goals that include collaborating with the West Kelowna Shelter Society, locating a homeless shelter or day-warming shelter, advocating for support services for mental health, heath care and addiction, and working to secure more permanent supportive housing.

“Hopefully we will be able to have something for this winter, I know it’s an urgent situation,” said Milsom. “I am keeping my fingers crossed.”

RELATED: New supportive housing in Kelowna to provide the homeless with a home

A survey done in March by the Central Okanagan Foundation found 286 people experiencing homelessness across the Central Okanagan. That number was 23 per cent higher than it was in 2016.

“The money will be used if needed to hire contract support (for the city) for work involving advocacy, engagement and support initiatives for social housing in the community,” said communications supervisor Kirsten Jones.

RELATED: Education ministry recognizes new West Kelowna school a top priority for school district

In other city business, council supported three School District 23 applications to have properties excluded from the Agricultural Land Reserve.

This exclusions would allow the school district to build and manage on these properties without factoring in the rules of the ALR, which recognizes agriculture as a land’s priority use. More information on the ALR can be found here.

The three properties the school district is seeking exclusions for are Hudson Road Elementary School, Webber Road Community Centre and Shannon Lake Elementary School.

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