Berry: Ignoring concerns isn’t going to help Kelowna’s homeless

A few months ago, my parent’s house was broken into.

A man had smashed a rock through the basement window and argued with my mother while she was inside, a terrifying experience that has her up late at night and my father at the ready with a baseball bat at the slightest noise.

While this wasn’t the first time they had something broken into, or stolen, they have become increasingly concerned about the amount of crime in their neighbourhood, especially after a safe injection site opened within a block from their house.

After 20 years of living in the neighbourhood, raising three children who were free to roam the streets with little concern, they aren’t monsters for sharing their experiences and noticing a change taking place.

According to a Statistics Canada report, neighbourhoods that don’t share common values and don’t know or help each other and have less social control are associated with higher levels of crime.

Although a safe injection site is not the same as the housing Kelowna is providing for its homeless, it is concerning for local residents if something changes in a neighbourhood, especially when it’s regarding the safety and well-being of its residents.

NIMBY-ism aside, the city should be addressing these concerns, and providing residents with information and reassurances about why the complexes are going where they are, and how building a community actually decreases crime.

These complexes have security on site, provide food, housing and access to resources for its clients.

Medicine Hat, Alta. has been touting how it has alleviated homelessness from its city for years. The project, which Kelowna’s homeless strategy is modelled after, has been successful in reducing hospital visits, incarceration and the time spent in shelters, according to the Medicine Hat News.

In June, the city’s program to tackle homelessness is moving towards more advanced support for its clients, and said it now is down-sizing its housing first service because it’s no longer needed.

A formerly homeless woman who spent time travelling back and forth from Kelowna to Victoria said she was able to change her life when she was able to have her own apartment, and was able to separate herself from areas with high drug use.

These are the conversations the community needs for projects like Agassiz Road, for people who were quick to point fingers to crime.

My parents were also not consulted prior to the opening of the safe injection site. I point to the municipalities (and in Port Alberni’s safe injection site case: VIHA), as they should be doing a better job informing and listening to their residents.

Just Posted

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Asia Youngman (right) is pictured shooting another short film she wrote and directed titled Hatha. (Luba Popovic)
Peachland set to star in fantasy thriller film about N’xaxaitk’w — a.k.a. the Ogopogo

The film will follow an Indigenous teen as she navigates peer pressure, bullying and identity

Fruit farmers in the Okanagan and Creston valleys are in desperate need of cherry harvesters amid COVID-19 work shortages. (Photo: Unsplash/Abigail Miller)
‘Desperate’ need for workers at Okanagan cherry farms

Fruit farmers are worried they’ll have to abandon crops due to COVID-19 work shortages

Earls On Top at 211 Bernard Avenue in Kelowna. (Google Maps photo)
Downtown Kelowna’s Earls ordered closed after COVID-19 transmission

Earls on Top on Bernard Avenue will be closed from June 18 to June 27

Danny Fulton receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Coast Capri Hotel on April 27. The pop-up clinic was hosted by the First Nations Health Authority. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Drop-in COVID-19 vaccine clinic planned for Kelowna

Clinic at Kelowna Secondary School from June 22 to 24 from 1 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Jeanette Megens
KCR: Volunteering is sharing your story

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Starting in 2022, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District is extending dog control to the entire Electoral Area D. (Stock photo)
Dog control bylaw passes in Shuswap area despite ‘threatening’ emails

CSRD board extending full dog control in Electoral Area D starting next year

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read